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A man smokes a cigarette yesterday afternoon on Phnom Penh’s Diamond Island.
A man smokes a cigarette yesterday afternoon on Phnom Penh’s Diamond Island. Pha Lina

Smoking-ban deadline looms

The Ministry of Health will begin ramping up its efforts to publicise a recently passed smoking ban, and individuals caught smoking in public places and establishments that fail to display “no smoking” signs can expect to start paying fines starting from September 16.

Under the sub-decree, approved in March, establishments will face a 50,000 riel (about $12.50) fine if they fail to put up the no smoking signs or are caught providing ashtrays to customers. The penalty for individuals found to be in violation of the ban will be a 20,000 riel (about $5) fine.

The ministry on Wednesday issued a statement requiring managers and owners of establishments to display the signs in places that are in clear view to the customers.

The signs must be written in Khmer or English and must specify the fine amount. Ray Rany, director of tobacco and health at the ministry, said officials have prepared signs for all establishments that need to go up before September 16.

Dr Mom Kong, director of the Cambodia Movement for Health, said a study found that people in Cambodia smoke the most while eating out, using public transportation and working at public and private businesses.

“To effectively implement the ban … the smoker needs to respect it and not smoke in prohibited areas,” he said. “Before it was just manners, but now we have the law.”

Dr Yel Daravuth, a technical officer at the WHO who helped draft the ban, said “we don’t want to punish people; we need to help protect non-smokers”.

Some businesses, however, shrugged off the announcement. Vanny Nget, assistant to the owner of Cadillac Bar and Grill, said the business only allows customers to smoke inside after 10:30pm, and didn’t expect to change its policy.

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