Cambodia: Tobacco tie-up ban for educational institutions

Cambodia: Tobacco tie-up ban for educational institutions

The Ministry of Education has issued a directive to all public and private educational institutions nationwide that they are not allowed to partner with or receive support from the tobacco industry for any of their programmes and activities.

In a directive signed by the Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron and viewed by Khmer Times yesterday, the institutions are not allowed to partner with the tobacco industry for charitable activities, study visits, internships and research, among others.

Naron said that the ministry is aware of a few educational institutions which had got the support of the tobacco industry and used its trademarks for their educational programmes.

He added the ministry prohibits any cooperation between the tobacco industry and the units under the ministry throughout the country at all levels, both public and private.

“The provision of venues or grounds for public and private educational institutions for the promotion or exhibition of programmes of the tobacco industry is also prohibited,” said Naron.

This prohibition is also part of the implementation of the Convention on the Control of Tobacco Products. Article 5.3 of the Convention states that public health and the tobacco industry have irreconcilable conflicts of interest because tobacco companies produce and promote tobacco products that have been scientifically found to cause addiction, illness and disability. Death and other social problems, including poverty, are also included as effects of the use of tobacco products.

Meanwhile, Cambodia Movement for Health (CMH) said in a statement that it supports the  ministry’s directive to prohibit the educational institutions from partnering or cooperating with the tobacco industry.

It said that the tobacco industry’s Cooperate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme was initiated with the aim of promoting its tobacco products and as a form of market research.

It added that the ministry’s directive implements measures to ban the promotion, and marketing of tobacco products, which are completely prohibited by the Law on the Control of Tobacco Products.

It said that, through the study of internal documents of international tobacco companies, the tobacco industry uses social responsibility strategies to build relationships with decision-makers, influence policy-making and build the company’s reputation. Tobacco companies also use social assistance programmes to increase confidence, increase profits and prevent the implementation of effective health protection policies.

SK&P Cambodia Law Group praised the ministry’s efforts saying: “This guideline is very important for Cambodia, a party to the Convention on the Control of Tobacco Products, to prevent the intervention of the tobacco industry in efforts to improve the health of the people of Cambodia.

In 2019, a study by technical working groups from WHO, the United Nations Development Programme and Framework Convention on Tobacco Control showed that smoking kills around 15,000 Cambodians annually and treating diseases from smoking costs the economy some $650 million every year.

It shows that one-third of those who die from smoking are from the lower-income group and the cost of treating tobacco-related illnesses is equivalent to three percent of the country’s GDP.

Source: KHMER Times