A gents from the Counter-Counterfeit Committee of Cambodia (CCCC) have impounded nearly five tonnes of e-cigarettes, shishas and other smoking equipment this year and are preparing to destroy them.

In a press release on December 29, the CCCC said the contraband had been seized in raids of nine sites – four in Phnom Penh, one in Battambang and four in Banteay Meanchey.

The report listed confiscated equipment, including “46,352 smoking machines, 10 boxes of repair tools, 525 battery units, 15,831 bottles of vape oil and many other tools.”

The CCCC said distributors of e-cigarettes had violated parameters established by the National Authority for Combating Drugs and the Tobacco Control Law. They were made to sign confessions and cease and desist orders.

“Prosecutors decided to impound these products at the committee headquarters for destruction. In the past, the CCCC destroyed nearly one tonne of such products, and it is prepared to destroy four more tonnes of them in the near future,” the CCCC said.

It added that e-cigarettes had been widely publicised on social media where they were disingenuously claimed to be a tool to quit smoking cigarettes. It warned that the number of e-cigarettes users was increasing and illicit sales of the products were widespread.

“Shisha and e-cigarettes are a new type of drug that poses a risk to Cambodian youths in the present and the future. Young people could be affected to abandon their studies or work and cause other worrisome social problems,” it said.

The CCCC called on the public to cooperate in reporting information about locations where such products are produced and distributed.

Cambodia Movement for Health executive director Mom Kong applauded efforts to stop the distribution of products that harm people’s health, particularly those which affect youths.

“E-cigarettes are the gateway that leads young people to use other drugs and spread person-to-person infections such as Covid-19 because they can be shared among individuals. We know that information about them was spread widely on Facebook, and as a precautionary measure, police should crack down on them more strictly,” he said.

The CCCC claimed that although the products did not contain addictive compounds listed in the annex of the Drug Control Law, they contained high concentrations of nicotine which can have a serious impact on health as a contributing cause to lung, stomach and oesophageal cancers, respiratory disorders, and heart and kidney disease.

It also warned that e-cigarettes could be even more dangerous if the liquids used in them are blended with other drugs.