Prime Minister Hun Manet has directed the Ministry of Information and relevant bodies to reinforce regulations on alcohol advertising, stressing that the depiction of alcohol consumption shall no longer be allowed on television. 

The directive came during the closing ceremony of the ministry’s annual meeting, held on January 23 to review its past achievements and set goals for 2024.

Manet instructed information minister Neth Pheaktra to urgently address all forms of advertising that promote audience participation in drinking, an activity that is currently broadcast nationwide. 

“Advertising has its limits. A few days ago, I received a photograph showing people opening beers on the stage of a TV show. I immediately ordered a halt to this and authorised minister Pheaktra to terminate such advertising on TV. Having posters that advertise beer along with educational messages under scrutiny is one thing, but inviting people to openly consume alcohol on [TV] stage is a different story and must cease,” he said.

Kep provincial governor Som Piseth, while addressing his officials at a separate ceremony on January 22, emphasised the need for thorough inspection of advertising. 

He acknowledged that some banners and posters contribute to state revenue but insisted on the scrutiny of beer advertisements. 

“We don’t have the authority to ban beer advertising outright, as it’s lawful. However, following the information ministry’s recent directive on beer advertisements, we must approach the issue judiciously.

“Legally, it isn’t an offence,but morally, it poses a significant risk to society, especially since many road accidents are attributed to drunk driving. Therefore, I have authorised the removal of beer advertising posters in all towns and districts,” he explained. 

“We shouldn’t overlook minor issues that could become bigger ones, but instead work collectively to address them. We need to balance state income against social risks and aesthetics,” he added. 

Vei Samnang, provincial governor of Kampong Speu, reported on January 24 that there were no public beer advertisements in the province, in line with Manet’s directive. 

“The prime minister instructed us to restrict the widespread advertising of beer, and our authorities have consistently adhered to his guidance and recommendations,” he said.

Yang Kim Eng, president of the People’s Centre for Development and Peace, commended the prime minister’s initiative but noted that such measures would be short-lived without a comprehensive alcohol control law. 

“For these actions to have a lasting impact, we need a law governing alcohol control. The law should outline sustainable alcohol containment strategies. While orders and directives are effective in the short term, we need a law for them to have long-lasting effects,” he said. 

Kim Eng urged the prime minister to expedite the enactment of an alcohol advertising law, pointing out that the current measures are merely temporary and emergency responses. 

“By regulating advertising that tempts people to consume alcohol, we could potentially reduce alcohol usage in our country,” he said.