Cambodian men drink more than the global norm and their liquor habits are on the upswing, according to a recent report by the World Health Organization.
People – especially men – throughout the Western Pacific and Southeast Asian regions are drinking more, according to the WHO’s Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2014, released on Monday.
Cambodians aged 15 or older drank an average of 5.5 litres of pure alcohol per person from 2008 to 2010, versus the 4.6 litres consumed on average during 2003-2005. Locals also showed a strong preference for home brew over commercial booze: more than 60 per cent of the alcohol consumed came from non-government regulated sources.
Cambodia is still far from the lush of the continent, though, thanks to hard drinking in China and South Korea, with averages of 6.8 litres per person. And the Kingdom also trails just behind the global average of 6.2 litres.
Still, Cambodian men haven’t held back, guzzling an average of 9.7 litres per person, or almost six times the amount of alcohol their female counterparts consumed.
“It’s a big public health concern because [men] don’t just drink a little. Every time they drink, they drink a lot,” said Dr Yal Daravuth, a technical officer at the WHO Cambodia.
By comparison, 62 per cent of Cambodian women self-reported never touching a drop of booze, a teetotaling rate not uncommon in the region.
“In Cambodia and many other Asian countries it’s not considered acceptable for women to drink or smoke, it’s something that only women who work the bars do, whereas men can do whatever they like,” Daravuth said.
Civil society groups have previously linked Cambodia’s heavy drinking to the lack of legislation regulating alcohol advertisements, and have called on the government to raise the alcohol tax to 20 per cent.
Both the Ministry of Information and the Ministry of Health could not be reached for comment yesterday.