While the NGO Cambodia Movement for Health (CMH) has said it has seen the sale and distribution of e-cigarettes on social media becoming more cautious after a series of actions by authorities, the practice continues.
Minister of Interior Sar Kheng reminded relevant authorities and the public on June 26 to follow the guidelines of the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) regarding the prevention of the e-cigarette trade and the use of heated tobacco product (HTPs).
CMH said on August 16 that there had been several crackdowns by authorities on the sale and distribution of e-cigarettes.
These included action taken by the Phnom Penh municipal police’s anti-drug bureau, as well as that by their Preah Sihanouk and Pursat provincial counterparts.
However, despite the recent efforts of the authorities, the sale of e-cigarettes – also known as “vapes” – on social media has continued, albeit more cautiously, CMH said.
It added that precautions taken included moving away from advertising such products directly on Facebook to selling via Telegram, with Facebook pages kept active for customers to contact.
“Some sellers do not allow their customers to buy directly, which means the goods have to be delivered, while others suspend sales when there are severe restrictions from the authorities and resume when they ease.
“Some sellers simply continue to sell on Facebook without fear of the authorities,” CMH said.
CMH director Mom Kong described such actions as a violation of the government’s directive banning the use, sale and import of e-cigarette products since 2014, with commercial activities and the import of HTPs banned in 2021.
“We know that e-cigarettes and HTPs are a danger to young people and children, and they are becoming a concern for the leaders as well as the general public,” he said.
According to Mom Kong, evidence shows that the use of e-cigarettes can cause health problems, addiction, serious heart and lung damage, and even death.
The impact on the health of adolescents and children will have serious consequences for Cambodia’s human resources, who represent the future of Cambodian society, he said.
“When using e-cigarettes, chemicals and nicotine are absorbed into the body and into the smoker’s brain, with experts warning that the use of vaping devices is developing at an alarming rate, especially at a young age,” Kong said.
According to a statement from the Ministry of Health, the use of e-cigarettes among adolescents and children can have serious long-term consequences for brain development, can cause anxiety and affect memory and learning, and possibly lead to brain damage.
In addition, the use of e-cigarettes could cause children and teenagers to become regular smokers, and lead to future drug use.
On August 16, the NACD held a workshop on the prohibitions and measures taken against the advertising on social media and distribution of all forms of e-cigarettes and HTPs.
The workshop was attended by the anti-drug departments of the capital and 24 provincial police commissariats, capital and provincial police commissioners, and provincial gendarmerie.
It was also attended by the interior ministry’s Anti-Cyber Crime Department, capital and provincial administrations, and other relevant institutions.
The NACD said the workshop was aimed at continuing to take strict action against the advertising on social media of e-cigarettes and all forms of HTPs, and their distribution.
“It is necessary to determine the locations of such distribution and target advertisers, whether on Facebook, websites or Telegram, in order to take measures and seize these products, and warn the owners of these goods to cease their activities permanently,” the NACD said.