SENIOR inter-ministerial officials yesterday urged airport administrators to strictly enforce anti-smoking laws and discourage the sale of tobacco to ensure a smoke-free environment for tourists.
The statement came at a meeting entitled Smoke-free environment in the tourist sector at Phnom Penh International Airport aiming to ensure the widespread understanding and effective implementation of tobacco regulations.
The meeting was attended by some 20 officials from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Tourism and civil society organisations.
Hor Sarun, the under-secretary of state at the Ministry of Tourism, said some people still smoke cigarettes at airports in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, which is affecting other travellers’ well-being and comfort.
“I too, like our other officials, ask that all airport officials ensure there are no-smoking signs and set up smoking rooms that do not affect other people.
“Cigarette sellers also need to be careful not to put too much on display. They must also put signs up warning of the danger posed by smoking, such as photos of children with lung disease and scary-looking photos of diseased lungs,” Sarun said.
Chhea Chhordaphea, the director of the Ministry of Health’s National Centre for Health Promotion, said smoking affects not just the health of smokers but also people who do not smoke. It also damages the economy and environment.
She said tobacco can cause cancer of the lungs and other organs, heart disease and stroke among others.
Kim Sophorn, undersecretary of state at the Secretariat for Civil Aviation, said he understood the importance of the measures and would pass on all the points made at the meeting to airport general managers.
Phnom Penh International Airport general manager Herve Bonin said he had only just received the instructions but was committed to setting up smoking areas far from tourist entry and exit points.
He said he will also instruct businesses that sell cigarettes to participate in the campaign.
“I have been facing difficulties too. A small number of our customers don’t listen to our instructions. They simply pull cigarettes out of their pocket and smoke on the spot.
“Some of them get angry at us. But we try to explain the law and the reasons behind it,” Bonin said.
Mom Kong, the executive director of the Cambodian Movement for Health, said Phnom Penh International Airport had made a lot of reforms already, but civil society is still concerned about the open display of cigarettes in public locations, which is against the law.
He urged all airports to make reforms as soon as possible to promote travellers’ health and happiness.
“Advertising on tobacco and tobacco products is banned by the law and cigarettes sold in Cambodia must include visual warnings of the damaging consequences of smoking,” he said.
According to Sub-decree 149, all tobacco product packaging must display a pictorial health warning covering 55 per cent of the front and back panels of the package and a warning in Khmer.
Penalties for not following the law include a 10,000 riel ($2.50) fine for retailers, two million riel for wholesalers and four million riel for exporters or producers.
According to a law passed in May 2015, all forms of advertising on tobacco products are banned. Violators are to be fined eight million to 40 million riel, with repeat offenders being fined double.