The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports – in collaboration with partner organisations – has launched a campaign to push for the banning of advertisements and the sale of tobacco products at public and private educational institutions.

The May 18 launch was presided over by ministry undersecretary of state Soeur Socheata and held at the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP). Joining Socheata were Mom Kong, executive director of the NGO Cambodia Movement for Health (CMH), assorted speakers and more than 300 students.

The ministry said the campaign aimed to ban public and private educational institutions from allowing their partners to receive sponsorship – or sign memorandums of understanding (MoU) – with tobacco manufacturers for any purpose.

“We will not allow tobacco manufacturers to be given space at the public or private educational institutions or organise promotional programmes or exhibitions. They should have no involvement in any activity related to education,” the ministry said.

Socheata said at the event that the campaign was part of implementing the Convention on Tobacco Products Control. After the guidelines were issued to all educational institutions, local authorities would be responsible for ensuring that they were implemented.

“We have launched this campaign to serve as a message. We want the youth to participate in preventing tobacco products making any inroads into educational institutions in any form,” she said.

Citing a UN study, the ministry said that tobacco use was the leading cause of death for some 15,000 Cambodians each year, and cost Cambodia approximately $649 million a year.