Prime Minister Hun Sen announced during a speech yesterday that he had completely quit smoking after more than 10 failed attempts.
“I was not struggling against natural disasters or others – I was struggling against myself, and I announce today absolute success in my attempt to quit smoking,” Hun Sen said to graduates from Chamroeun University of Poly-Technology.
“Now, my house is free of smoke and the smell of cigarettes," he added. "Oh! My wife was patient with me for many years, and I feel pity for my wife.”
During his speech, Hun Sen poked fun at Pol Saroeun, commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, and Pa Socheatvong, Phnom Penh municipal governor, saying they were the types of smokers who failed to quit successfully.
Hun Sen claimed in March that he had smoked his last cigarette, adding that his then-11th try at quitting would be his last.
Mom Kong, executive director of the Cambodia Movement for Health, said that according to a national survey in 2011, some 10,000 Cambodian people die from tobacco-related diseases every year.
“I think that Prime Minister Hun Sen’s announcement about successfully quitting smoking is a good model for the Cambodian people, and also for his health,” Kong said.
Hun Sen’s declaration coincides with ministerial-level discussion of a proposed anti-smoking law which would ban smoking in places such as restaurants, hotels and bars.
During his speech, the premier also promised raises for all civil servants, with priority for those in the health and education sectors, setting the lowest wage at 550,000 riel per month ($123) and the highest at 1.6 million riel ($394.)