The National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) has urged municipal and provincial authorities and all relevant institutions to strictly enforce the ban on the import, trafficking and use of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products (HTP) in Cambodia.
Speaking at the “Prohibition of the import and trafficking of e-cigarettes and HTPs” workshop on February 28, NACD secretary-general Meas Vyrith introduced new measures to urgently prevent the trade and import of these products.
He said the measures required the relevant authorities to report statistics of any enforcement of related crimes to the NACD so its officials could compile a detailed accurate report.
Vyrith said e-cigarettes and HTPs were battery-powered devices that generate thermal energy to convert the contents of the device into vapour that consumers inhale. Traders advertise these products on the market as safer than cigarettes, but studies show that using e-cigarettes and HTPs can still lead to lung cancer, heart disease or even death.
“We must work together to prevent the use of e-cigarettes and HTPs as gateways to drug use,” he added.
Mom Kong, executive director of the NGO Cambodia Movement for Health (CMH), said he had recently noticed that many people were aggressively marketing e-cigarettes and HTPs by posting or broadcasting live on social media such as TikTok, Instagram, Telegram and especially Facebook.
Those advertisers claimed that using these devices is a safe, risk-free way to quit smoking cigarettes, he noted.
“We have seen many of our young people fall into the trap of e-cigarettes and HTPs and become unknowingly addicted to them,” he said.
Kong said the liquid used in them contained many harmful chemicals, such as nicotine, glycerine, glycol and propylene, which can cause respiratory illnesses, lung cancer and heart damage. E-cigarettes also carry the risk of leaking and exploding, which could cause serious burns.
Chhea Chhordaphea, director of the National Centre for Health Promotion, said the government banned the import and selling of these kinds of products because they contain nicotine or other drugs and toxins that are harmful to smokers.
“The Ministry of Health and NACD banned them a long time ago and there have been many enforcement campaigns. We monitor the online marketing of these products and have a series of measures in place to prevent their sale,” she said.
Citing a UN study, Kong of the CMH said that about 15,000 Cambodians die each year from diseases caused by tobacco use, including the use of e-cigarettes and HTPs.
It said the use of tobacco products costs the Kingdom $649 million a year, or three per cent of its gross domestic product. Of that, $584 million was due to the decline of economic productivity and premature deaths.