The Association of Tobacco Industry in Cambodia (ATIC) supports the Cambodian government in raising awareness on the implementation of printing new Khmer textual and pictorial health warning (PHW) on cigarette packs among traders and vendors across the country.
According to directives from the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Economic and Finance, new PHW will cover 55 per cent of a tobacco product pack and consist of texts and images about smoking that could lead to heart disease and fatal emphysema. The implementation will start from December 1, 2021 while the existing legally compliant and tax paid tobacco products are allowed to be sold until they are depleted in the marketplace.
ATIC President Roy Manalili said that its association members comprising international tobacco companies – such as JTI, BAT, Imperial and PMI – have produced a trade announcement poster about the new directive and their salespeople have distributed the posters to more than 20,000 retail outlets across the Kingdom.
“Our members have printed the new textual and graphic health warning on our product packs. The association is pleased to follow and support the authorities in this process to promote public health and strengthen fair competition,” said Manalili.
A well-known international research agency Kantar study on illicit tobacco trade across Cambodia last year found that the estimated number of total cigarettes stock accounted for 4.7 million cigarette packs with 3.4 million compliant packs and the 1.3 million non-compliant packs (27 per cent) lacking valid PHW.
A further analysis was drawn that among those non-compliant cigarettes, 18 per cent was identified as illicit products that did not print Khmer textual and pictorial health warnings and tax stamps on the cigarette packs. This figure is remarkably a high number that poses a great challenge to law enforcement agencies in promoting public health in the country.
“It was believed that the ministry’s prioritised action to enforce and strengthen the existing regulations on the tobacco products with no pictorial health warning would be a much more important step than releasing new pictorial health warning or enlarging it. Better enforcement would increase the level playing field in the market for a transparent business environment in line with the latest government’s policy reform,” said Manalili.