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Minister vows action against tobacco firms

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A local shop selling different brands of cigrattes in Phnom Penh. Recently the Ministry of Health issued a warning to Tobacco companies. Heng Chivoan

Minister vows action against tobacco firms

Within almost six months of a sub-decree going into effect requiring graphic warnings on all cigarette packages, Health Minister Mam Bunheng issued a second warning this month to tobacco companies not complying with the regulations, threatening to take legal action.

The January 16 warning follows a first notice issued in early October prompted by companies’ low compliance with the sub-decree, which went into effect in July. Under the rules, graphic photos must cover 50 percent of cigarette packets, and a written message in Khmer must cover another 5 percent.

Those found violating the rules are subject to fines of about $1,000 for tobacco companies, $500 for distributors and wholesalers, and $2.50 for retailers.

Bunheng said companies are still flouting the regulations.

“The ministry will take legal action soon for companies that don’t obey the law and sub-decree,” Bunheng said in the warning. “The ministry . . . will not issue a third warning.”

Ung Phyrun, secretary of state at the Ministry of Health, said the ministry will only warn companies twice before punishing them. “This is the principle to make everyone obey the law, to make the companies aware of this,” he said.

Phyrun would not directly address why companies are still non-compliant. “We will talk to all the [tobacco] companies that are doing [business] in Cambodia,” he said.

British-American Tobacco, which controls about 40.3 percent of the market, couldn’t be reached for comment.

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