Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Tobacco regulations’ progress sluggish compared to e-cig ban

Tobacco regulations’ progress sluggish compared to e-cig ban

A woman uses an e-cigarette inside a store for the product in London in 2013.
A woman uses an e-cigarette inside a store for the product in London in 2013. Bloomberg

Tobacco regulations’ progress sluggish compared to e-cig ban

Less than a week after a government minister said he could not say when long-awaited restrictions on smoking in public places would come into effect, one health official expressed confusion at the seemingly stalled progress, especially as compared to an overnight ban placed last year on e-cigarettes.

“I can’t understand why e-cigarettes were banned, because there was no explanation,” said Dr Sin Sovann, deputy director of the national centre for health promotion at the Ministry of Health. “The ban did not come from my office.”

The sudden prohibition of e-cigarettes and shisha came into effect at the end of February 2014, after an edict from Prime Minister Hun Sen who ordered an “urgent” ban on the products.

Deputy Prime Minister Ke Kimyan, who was also president of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, said at the time that e-cigarettes, along with shisha pipes, were to be seized and destroyed, and imports stopped, because they got young people hooked on smoking.

However, an August 2015 study by UK government health body Public Health England (PHE) has found e-cigarettes were vastly less damaging to health than conventional tobacco, which remains almost entirely unregulated in Cambodia.

“While vaping [smoking e-cigarettes] may not be 100% safe, most of the chemicals causing smoking-related disease are absent and the chemicals present pose limited danger,” the PHE report reads. “The current best estimate is that e-cigarette use is around 95% less harmful to health than smoking.”

The researchers also dismissed fears that e-cigarettes encouraged young people to take up the habit.

According to Dr Yel Daravath, technical officer at World Health Organisation (WHO) Cambodia, the global health body is not in favour of prohibition.

“WHO recommends that the government regulates e-cigarettes, the same as other cigarettes,” he said.

But whilst a law to introduce graphic health warnings on cigarette packets will come into effect in July, Daravath added, proposed legislation did not include an age restriction on smoking, and the law banning lighting up in public places had still more hurdles to jump.

“The sub-decrees [enacting the law] have two more stages,” he said. “The inter-ministerial meeting and the plenary session of the Council of Ministers.”

The WHO also wants to see a big increase in excise duty on tobacco to discourage smoking, Daravuth added.

A spokesman for the Council of Ministers could not be reached for comment on the status of the sub-decrees.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Full country reopening to be decided in two weeks

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that if the Covid-19 situation remains stable for 15 consecutive days from the end of the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, Cambodia will reopen fully, albeit in the context of Covid-19 whereby people have to adjust their lives to

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Phnom Penh governor: Show Covid-19 vaccination cards, or else

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng late on October 5 issued a directive requiring all people aged 18 and over and the parents of children aged 6-17 to produce Covid-19 vaccination cards when entering schools, markets, malls, marts, eateries and other business establishments that have been permitted

  • Cambodia seeks probe into 'false reports' on Hun Sen's alleged Cypriot passport

    Minister of Justice Koeut Rith on September 6 wrote a letter to his Cypriot counterpart Stephie Dracos requesting cooperation in investigating and providing the truth in relation to the "exaggerative and false allegations" that Prime Minister Hun Sen holds a Cypriot passport. In his letter, the

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • 'Pandora Papers' expose leaders' offshore millions

    More than a dozen heads of state and government, from Jordan to Azerbaijan, Kenya and the Czech Republic, have used offshore tax havens to hide assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a far-reaching new investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (