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

  • Cambodia-Thailand rail reconnected after 45 years

    A railway reconnecting Cambodia and Thailand was officially inaugurated on Monday following a 45-year hiatus, with the two kingdoms’ prime ministers in attendance at the ceremony. On the occasion, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha travelled together from Thailand’s

  • Thousands attend CNRP-organised pro-democracy vigil in South Korea

    Thousands of supporters of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) on Saturday gathered in the South Korean city of Gwangju to hold a candlelight demonstration calling for the “liberation” of democracy in Cambodia. Yim Sinorn, a CNRP member in South Korea, said on

  • US Embassy: Chinese trade does not help like the West’s

    The US Embassy in Phnom Penh on Friday said relations between China and Cambodia did not create jobs or help industry when compared to the trade between the Kingdom and the US. “About 87 per cent of trade [with China] are Chinese imports, which do not

  • The Christian NGO empowering Cambodian families in Siem Reap

    With its basketball court, football pitch, tennis court and ninja warrior water sports area, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Siem Reap campus of International Christian Fellowship (ICF) Cambodia is a sports centre. But while these free, family-friendly activities are one of the