A blanket ban on alcohol advertising in public places within the capital was been announced by Phnom Penh governor Kep Chuktema, in a move intended to curb traffic accidents.
Road safety groups yesterday applauded the ban, which was signed on Tuesday and received by the Post yesterday, while beer producers downplayed concerns it would impact consumption of their wares.
“From today onward, owners of producing or distributing companies including advertising companies must stop activities of all kinds of alcohol advertising at the public places in Phnom Penh,” the statement from Kep Chuktema read.
Traffic accidents caused by drunk drivers both killed people and caused damage to public property, it said, adding that any signs which remained in place by the end of the year would be removed by authorities.
Soy Yary, coordinator of beer promoters for Cambrew – brewer of Angkor, Klang and Black Panther – yesterday welcomed the ban which she said would not affect her company’s sales because consumers already knew the quality of its products.
“It does not mean that if the authority bans us or other alcohol advertisers we will lose our clients, but it’s necessary that our products are good quality. The drinkers know that, so we have nothing to worry about,” she said.
Peter Brongers, chief executive officer of Kingdom Breweries, said a similar ban introduced in Thailand in 2008 that covered all forms of alcohol advertising had done nothing to curb consumption and suggested there were better ways to tackle problems related to the substance.
“I believe in drinking responsibly and not getting drunk behind the wheel. I think it is much more effective to put that message across rather than banning advertising alcohol,” he said.
“Look what happened with the cigarettes when they put messages on cigarette packets.”
Brongers also said newspapers and advertising agencies would take a sustantial hit from lost revenue streams because of the ban.
But Men Chan Sokol, chief of national and international relationships at the National Road Safety Commision, said alcohol companies had previously resisted moves to introduce responsible messages to their products.
“Actually they [authorities] asked the alcohol companies to put some words on their bottles like don’t drink and drive, but the alcohol companies didn’t agree,” she said.
Sann Socheata, road safety project manager for Handicap International Belgium, said awareness campaigns needed to be combined with tighter law enforcement against drunk drivers, which had improved in Cambodia but still lagged behind developed countries.
“The most important thing is ensure that all drink drivers have the perception that checkpoints can occur at any place, anywhere – but at the moment this is not the case,” she said.
Yong Kim Eng, president of People Center for Development and Peace, said large billboards advertising alcohol also adversely affected tourism because foreigners came to visit Cambodia for its attractions, not for its signs advertising booze.
“Billboards advertising alcohol in the city should be replaced with pictures of resorts, national heritage sites and tourism attraction, of which there are many in our country,” she said.