I T must have pained Second Prime Minister Hun Sen to do so - being a moderate to
heavy smoker himself - but on 28 Aug he signed a decree that will... gasp, ban
smoking in public places.
Not only that, but smokers' favorite non-Khmer
brands - $1-a-packet Marlboros and 555s etc. - are about to undergo a price
This is to ensure local Khmer brands are (much) cheaper, and
presumably therefore more enjoyable to smoke.
The uncomfortable new fact
for smokers came in Cabinet Ministry memo No. 1852, signed by vice-minister Nov
Kanoun on Aug 16.
"We have to make a very strict decision," he
The government plans to do even more than merely insist people do
not light up in "mass public places" - "we will fine someone who is against the
regulations," Kanoun said.
First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh,
a non-smoker, signed the decree four days after it was written. Hun Sen - with
maybe a wistful look at his ashtray - took another week to
Undersecretary of state for health, Man Bun Heng, said the ministry
had not yet informed everyone of the decision.
The first places were the
ban will be enforced will be the Ministry of Health buildings themselves, and
hospitals, he said.
He was not sure when the ban would be extended to all
public places. Schools would also be asked to teach children about the dangers
of smoking, he said.
The Cabinet decree also called for:
- Health warnings to be aired following every cigarette advertisement that
appears on television and radio. This has worried local stations, who already
complain advertising revenue is difficult to come by. Kanoun's memo acknowledges
that TV and radio stations are hard up but, citing Singapore as an example, he
says the tobacco warning has to be "very strict". Televisions or radio stations
also fear that the government might ban cigarette advertisements in the
- Foreign cigarettes imported (illegally) into Cambodia must be taxed "very
high," Kanoun said. High taxes on those cigarettes will ultimately benefit local
cigarette producers and laborers.