Against the background of a worrying rise in the sales and advertising of e-cigarettes on social media, several civil society organisations and state institutions have called for a campaign to reduce their availability.
A June 12 workshop was held at the Phnom Penh Municipal Hall to address the issue.
“The Phnom Penh municipal authorities and the undersigned civil society organisations urge all of the relevant institutions to take steps to reduce the sales and use of cigarettes and vapes. We have noted a worrying rise in their sale via social media,” said a June 12 report by the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD).
The report quoted Phnom Penh deputy governor Imran Hassan as saying that e-cigarettes and vapes have had a serious impact on society. In particular, he was concerned about the future effects they could have on children and young people.
“I encourage all districts, communes and local authorities to tighten and curb the use and distribution of e-cigarettes or vapes in respective jurisdictions in the strictest possible way,” he added.
NACD Legislation, Education and Rehabilitation Department director Lim Tong Huot said that despite the best efforts of authorities at all levels to prevent the import and sale of e-cigarettes, nefarious vendors continued to advertise and sell them.
In March 2021, the NACD issued guidelines on measures to prevent the import, trade and use of heated tobacco products (HTP) in Cambodia.
Tong Huot called on the youth to avoid the use of HTP products like vapes, as they are harmful to people’s health and cost them time and money.
“The police are cooperating with various ministries and institutions to educate the public about the negative impacts of these products. Once the public understand the danger they represent, demand will dry up and the vendors of these products will be easier to catch,” he said.
Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said cyber police should be responsible for detecting the online sales of these products and should cut off the advertisers, as they do with other items that affect the Kingdom’s dignity or social order.
“As far as I understand it, the government has the technology to prevent the vendors from advertising them online. We should not allow their sale, as it could lead to other vices, such as drugs,” he told The Post on June 13.
“I suggest that police specialists be tasked with reducing the number of online vendors,” he added.
According to the Ministry of Health, there are many studies available which suggest that the use of e-cigarettes and vapes is harmful and can result in addiction or even death.
The ministry explained that people who use these products absorb several chemicals, including nicotine, noting that 99 per cent of e-cigarettes contain nicotine.