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Students urge govt to approve draft anti-smoking legislation

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A street vendor presents hand-rolled cigarettes made from Cambodian-grown tobacco in Chamkarmon district on Thursday.

UNIVERSITY students accused politicians of dragging their feet over the draft law on smoking during a youth forum that took place at the National Paediatric Hospital on Thursday.

The forum, which involved around 200 students, parliamentarians and representatives of anti-smoking organisations, addressed the impact of tobacco in Cambodia with a focus on a draft law that has yet to be adopted.

Chhoeun Raksmey, a student representative from Preah Kossamak Polytechnic Institute, said Cambodians from remote areas were at greater risk of tobacco-related illnesses.

“We have seen that many people, especially people who live in remote areas, are at serious risk of suffering life-threatening tobacco-related illnesses,” he said, adding that advocates should work harder to push the government to adopt the draft law.

Mom Kong, executive director of Cambodia Movement for Health, said the draft law had been on the table since before Cambodia ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control along with 168 other countries in 2005.

“The longer the draft law is delayed, the more people will suffer from cigarettes,” he said.

To be in accord with the treaty, he said, the draft law should focus on discouraging tobacco use through increased taxes, controls over cigarette advertising, smoking bans in public and in the workplace, and warnings on cigarette packets.

Minister of Health Mam Bunheng said he was too busy to comment on Thursday, but Cambodian People’s Party parliamentarian Hou Sry said the National Assembly had yet to receive the draft law.

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