The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport – together with educational institutions and partner organisations – have launched a campaign to raise awareness of a ban on tobacco advertising and illicit drug use on university campuses.

The General Secretariat of the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) stated in a press release that the campaign, launched at BELTEI University, hoped to highlight a ban on the use of advertising and tobacco products at higher education institutions, and the insidious partnership of the tobacco industry with educational institutions, to reduce and stop the use of tobacco products and drugs to maintain good health for students and their families.

In the campaign, experts highlight the dangers of tobacco and drugs that are destroying the health of people worldwide on a daily basis. It also details tobacco industry strategies and how to avoid falling for them.

Lim Tong Huot – director of the NACD’s legislation, education and rehabilitation department – was quoted by the NACD as saying that it is not a foregone conclusion that university students will engage in tobacco and drug use, and that education on prevention will make them champions of spreading the word to their families and loved ones about the dangers of these vices.

Education ministry undersecretary of state Soeur Socheata said the ban was essential for health education. She likened each student to a “new bamboo, which we all have to take care of in order for it to grow well and become of good quality”.

In February 2021, the education ministry issued a directive prohibiting public and private educational institutions from partnering with the tobacco industry in ways including sponsorship or signing a memorandum of understanding for advertising on their premises, and mandated them to actively participate in campaigning for the cessation of use of tobacco products amongst students.

Ros Soveacha, the ministry’s spokesman, told The Post that the absence of illegal drugs and alcohol in educational institutions had contributed significantly to improving individuals’ health, quality of education and life.

He said illegal drugs and alcohol endanger the health and lives of students, and that the ministry has been working with all stakeholders to raise awareness of the effects of illicit drug and alcohol use.

“The education ministry is cooperating with other partners to assess the impact and effectiveness of measures to reduce accidents caused by the illegal use of drugs and alcohol,” he said.

Soveacha added that the campaign has developed educational material to prevent the use of illegal drugs in educational institutions in the form of lesson guides and worksheets, through which teachers can check students’ understanding.

“This work is in the strategic plan for the education sector 2019-2023 and is in the horizon of our 2030 plan. The education ministry is committed to achieving the plan, which promotes a quality and equitable, lifelong learning environment for all,” he said.