Health Minister Mam Bun Heng has made calls for people to limit their alcohol consumption in a bid to cut government spending on related health and social problems.
The December 31 statement, which has been published in Khmer-language newspapers, warns that alcohol consumption can lead to health problems including liver or stomach ulcers, as well as heart attacks and strokes “that can cause death”.
In addition, the statement cautions, alcohol contributes to social ills.
“To drink wine or other alcohol also causes domestic violence, arguments in restaurants or other public places, and [can lead people] to face HIV/AIDS when they lose control of themselves,” it states.
It also notes that about 100 people have died over the past four years after indulging in homemade moonshine.
“[People] can become poisoned if the wine or other alcohol is produced without good standards,” reads the statement, which then goes on to highlight the links between alcohol consumption and traffic accidents.
A total of 1,649 people died in traffic accidents last year, 12 percent of which involved people driving under the influence of alcohol, according to Ministry of Interior Ministry figures.
Sok Sokun, director of the municipal Department of Health, said Thursday that moderate consumption of alcohol, about 10 millilitres per day, could have health benefits, but warned against binge drinking.
“We can drink a small glass of alcohol a day to make our health good, but if we drink too much it affects our health and safety,” he said, adding that alcoholism could also contribute to poverty.
“The Ministry of Health usually thinks about the people’s health and benefits in order to reduce poverty because some people drink alcohol without working,” Sok Sokun said.
During a meeting last month, a coalition of civil society groups called on the government to restrict advertising and increase taxes on alcoholic beverages in a bid to stem alcohol-related health and social issues.
A study conducted by the People’s Centre for Development and Peace presented at the workshop showed that 30 percent of the daily expenses of 1,400 people surveyed across seven provinces went towards alcohol.
Overall, 16 percent of those surveyed were found to be alcoholics, while 58 percent of respondents aged between 15 and 25 said they drank every day.
There is no law regulating the minimum drinking age in Cambodia.