October 10, 2011

Firm lights up with English to evade ban


A sub-decree banning all forms of tobacco advertisements in the country passed earlier this year is being violated througout the Kingdom, according to a government official who helped draft the legislation.

The February 24 sub-decree prohibits the advertisement of cigarettes and other tobacco products via media, billboards and live events. Penatlies range from written warnings to shutdowns of offending businesses. Despite this, a number of tobacco companies, manufacturers and distributors contine to pepper the country with advertisements, in open defiance of the ruling.

The billboards don’t show the Khmer word for ‘cigarette’ ... They just have some English words.

A representative of C&T Advertising, whose billboards for KT&G’s ESSE cigarettes are scattered throughout the capital and in several provinces, said she did not consider the advertisments to be against the law.

“The billboards don’t show any cigarette packs and they don’t have the Khmer word for ‘cigarette’ on them. They just have some English words,” she said.
She added that if the government demands that the billboards be taken down, her company would comply because it does not want to violate the law.

Touch Chanthy, a member of the Economic Social and Cultural Committee of the Council of Ministers, was an instrumentalal part of drafting the tobbaco ban legislation. He said the company was in defiance of the sub-decree.

“I don’t know if they just don’t understand the contents of the sub-decree or if they’re just pretending not to understand, but ads using cigarette brands and messages are a violation of the sub-decree, even if it is in English,” he said.

It remains to be seen, however, if businesses such as C&T Advertising will be punished.  Touch Chanthy said it was the responsibilty of the Ministry of Health “to monitor and control the countrywide tobacco ads”.

Minister of Health Mom Bunheng yesterday referred all questions to Ung Phyrun, the Ministry of Health’s secretary of state in charge of tobacco issues, who declined to comment.


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