The government temporarily banned sale of alcohol in capital city Phnom Penh, initially from April 11 to 24, 2021. Then the ban was extended till May 8, 2021. Recently the government further extended it till May 22, 2021.
Along with the sales ban and advertising ban was also implemented. The advertising ban is applicable to radio, television and online media. Now, communities are calling for a permanent ban on alcohol advertising. On May 4, 2021 nearly 40 civil society organizations and associations issued a joint statement calling for a permenant alcohol advertising ban and supporting the advertising ban during COVID-19 implemented by the government.
Alcohol affects our health, so we urge that alcohol advertising be reduced and stopped permanently. If the government thinks of people’s health, they should ban alcohol advertising forever. So, this is a good directive as it could reduce deaths,” said Tim Vora, executive director of the HIV/AIDS Coordinating Committee, as per The Phnom Penh Post.Tim Vora, executive director of the HIV/AIDS Coordinating Committee
The view of the Cambodia Movement for Health is that the ban should continue since advertising of alcohol products encourages people to gather and consume alcohol.
The World Health Organization (WHO) advised from early on in the pandemic to limit alcohol availability.
Mom Kong, executive director of the Cambodia Movement for Health, pointed out that banning alcohol advertising is recommended by the WHO as a Best Buy solution to prevent and reduce alcohol harm and to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as per Agenda 2030. Movendi International analysis shows that alcohol is a major obstacle to development, adversely affecting 14 of the 17 SDGs.
Cambodia fully supports the SDGs and is committed to the Agenda 2030, according to the government. As such an alcohol advertising ban would be a step towards the fulfillment of this commitment.
Banning alcohol advertisements is one of the WHO’s three Best Buy alcohol policy solutions to prevent and reduce alcohol harm. These are the most cost effective measures to achieve health and development targets through tackling alcohol harm. The cost effectiveness of the policy has led many Asian countries to implement advertising restrictions on alcohol to protect especially children and youth from the products and practices of the alcohol industry. Countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong and South Korea all have some form of alcohol advertising restrictions in place. Sri Lanka has a total ban on alcohol advertising.
Alcohol policy in Cambodia
As the WHO reports, per capita alcohol consumption has been rising in Cambodia from 2010 to 2016. Even though the majority of Cambodians is living alcohol-free, harm caused by alcohol industry products and practicers is high. The country is placed on the highest end for years of life lost due to alcohol.
Cambodian alcohol policy needs improvement in many areas including minimum age for buying alcohol, alcohol sales limits, and regulations on sponsorship and promotions. A full alcohol advertising ban as advocated by communities would help better protect Cambodians from alcohol harm.
[This article was updated on May 11, 2021 as per new information from The Phnom Penh Post]