The Phom Penh Post ; 10-01-2024

A billboard advertising beer is seen on an overpass in Phnom Penh.

The Ministry of Information has introduced new restrictions on alcohol advertising, while the Ministry of Health warned people to limit their intake of alcohol, noting that excess drinking takes a serious toll on public health and the economy, as well as society as a whole.

A January 9 information ministry announcement, signed by Minister of Information Neth Pheaktra, announced a ban on any advertising which encourages people to drink to excess by offering rewards or prizes. “We also prohibit them from using women or girls to advertise alcohol, as this affects the rights and dignity of Khmer women. In addition, all billboards, online media, television or radio ads – or any other media – which advertise alcohol must feature the warnings ‘Do not drink and drive’ and ‘drink responsibly’,” said the ministry.

The ministry noted that television, radio and other media outlets featured many examples of alcohol advertising. The announcement warned that many current advertisements use the lure of rewards to tempt people, especially the youth, to consume alcoholic beverages in order to chance their luck at winning prizes, including cash, cars and new motorcycles.

It cautioned that alcohol is harmful to human health, and may affect the future of Cambodian youth, who are the “bamboo shoots” of the future. Pheaktra said that in addition, excess alcohol consumption has a negative impact on society, as heavy drinkers are responsible for many traffic accidents, as well as instances of domestic violence and violent crime. “In order to curb and eliminate these outcomes, we once again remind the owners and managers of media outlets, as well as the owners of companies which produce, import or distribute alcoholic beverages to pay close attention to the regulations that are in force,” he added.

The health ministry has also issued warnings about the dangers of alcohol consumption, noting that it has severe consequences to public health and the economy, as well as negative effects on the friends, family and colleagues of drinkers. In a January 10 notice, the ministry listed liver damage, cancer, cardio-vascular diseases, mental illness and an increased risk of stroke as just some examples of the long-term consequences of excess alcohol consumption. “We call on all members of the public – especially the young – to avoid consuming alcohol. To those who have never drunk alcohol, please don’t start. For those who do, please reduce your consumption to a minimum, for the sake of your loved ones and your own health,” it said. The ministry appealed to local authorities, family members, schools and communities to create an atmosphere which discourages alcohol consumption and raises awareness of its negative impacts on people and society.

Yang Kim Eng, president of the People Centre for Development and Peace, said on January 10 that he believed alcohol advertising was out of control, with well-known brands appearing at nearly all major public events and national holiday festivities. He added that this ‘anarchic’ picture had led to almost all people now consuming alcohol. He also noted that the production of new beers appeared to be on the rise. 

“We hope that the new health minister is committed to minimising the risks that are associated with alcohol, so it will not destroy the future of new generations. We suggest that the minister consider adding new taxes to alcoholic beverages and would like to see him try to quicken the passage of alcohol laws, which have been stalled for nearly 10 years,” he said. He added that he hoped the announcements by the ministries of information and health will contribute to protecting people’s health, and was pleased to see the end of advertising which tempted people to drink to excess for a chance to win rewards.

According to the Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey (2021-2022 CDHS), released in April 2023, about 70 per cent of men consume alcoholic drinks. In an average month, 10 per cent of men said they consume alcoholic drinks either every day or almost every day. 12 per cent claimed to drink from between 11 to 24 days per month, while 18 per cent consumed alcoholic drinks from six days to 10 days per month. Sixty percent of the men surveyed said they consumed alcohol no more than five days a month.

Original news item

Post Navigation