In Cambodia, the rate of tobacco use has declined but there are still more than 150,000 deaths each year due to tobacco use, said a senior Cambodia Movement for Health (CMH) official.
According to new research by the Ministry of Health, the rate of youth cigarette smokers has dropped from 32 per cent in 2014 to 28 per cent in 2022.
CMH executive director Mom Kong said the research indicated that in the past eight years from 2014-2022, Cambodia has had a four per cent drop in cigarette smokers, but the overall number of cigarette smokers did not go down because the population keeps growing year to year.
Kong said the declining rate for smoking marked another achievement that came from the effort of relevant institutions in Cambodia such as education and tobacco advertising bans and no-smoking at work or in public places.
He claimed that tobacco and e-cigarettes were different because the e-cigarette was a new product created to replace cigarettes and tobacco, but he believes people will gradually stop using them because they will become aware of their danger and impacts.
“This e-cigarette was created to attract youths and children through the use of technology that creates vapour with batteries instead of smoke. But the vapour is as bad as the smoke because it contains nicotine which is an addictive substance,” he said.
He also said that Cambodia has laws to regulate and control tobacco products so that it is not allowed to be advertised or increased in price but they would lose that control if they banned it completely.
The Ministry of Health issued a directive banning the import and use or distribution of e-cigarettes, so the e-cigarettes are not controlled like tobacco. However, because no law has been passed outlining criminal penalties for the possession or distribution of e-cigarettes, the authorities are limited in their ability to punish those they confiscate them from.
“I think that the most effective measure we can take would be to raise taxes on the tobacco products so that the rate is similar to our neighbouring countries in order to reduce the number of Cambodian deaths from tobacco smoking,” Kong stated.
He added that the implementation of measures against e-cigarettes must be tightened so that the government can make sure that they will not be advertised online and distributed in Cambodia.
Project Coordinator of the Cambodian Coalition to Fight Infectious Diseases, Lim Sophoan said that certain youths are conscious of their health, but others don’t care about their health, something they may regret in time.
He added that so far, the government has strengthened the implementation of laws and paid close attention to the care of people’s health by banning e-cigarettes and discouraging the use of tobacco products that seriously endanger health.
“We hail what the government has done so far, but the government should strengthen the implementation of the laws more than this. That’s good. In addition, we also want to tighten laws and continue to educate people from relevant ministries,” he continued.