Friday, March 12, 2010

Cambodia Holds National Consultation on Tobacco Control


About 180 people who are health officials, tobacco activities and lawmakers from 11 Cambodian government’s ministries, national and international NGOs, have attended the National Consultation on Tobacco Control for over two days from the 3rd to 4th of March in Phnom Penh to seek the process of the draft law of the Cambodia’s Tobacco Control and its government’s policies. The National Consultation on Tobacco Control was jointly organized by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency Cambodia (ADRA), Medicam, Cambodia Movement for Health (CMH), and World Health Organization (WHO), and funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

Mrs. Ho Naun, a Parliamentary Member of the National Assembly, said that the National Consultation on Tobacco Control is important because it will raise and propose the recommendations on key policy on Tobacco Control in Cambodia.

She added that Royal Government of Cambodia and the National Assembly have strongly supported the civil societies’ initiatives and recommendations on the Tobacco Control policy in order to reduce the tobacco use as well as poverty reduction in Cambodia.

“On behalf of the National Assembly, I welcome and strongly support the initiatives and recommendations made by our tobacco experts and civil societies on the Tobacco use and control in Cambodia. I would like to confirm that the National Assembly of Cambodia will examine and adopt the Tobacco Control Law which will be sent by the Council of Ministers,” she said during a closing speech at the National Consultation on Tobacco Control on March 4.

The parliamentarian stated that to control the tobacco use the National Assembly of Cambodia will have to adopt a WHO’s Tobacco Control Convention on November 2005. She also said that recently the Royal Government of Cambodia has also issued a sub-decree on cigarettes’ heath messages in order to raise awareness on tobacco use and reducing the use of tobacco in Cambodia.

So far, a total of Cambodia’s government’s, 11 ministries have issued the circulation on “No Smoking” in their ministries or working places and they now were implementing “Non-Smoking Environment” in their offices in Cambodia, according to Ho Naun.

Mark Sqwisow, Executive Director of ADRA, said that tobacco use has been impacting both people’s health and economies in Cambodia. He added that to reduce the tobacco use in Cambodia, the government should immediately adopt the Tobacco Control Law as soon as possible and taking a strict actions and measures against it. He continued to say that the government should also ban cigarette advertising; increase tobacco tax and prize measures; create smoke free environment; and raise public awareness and health warnings on tobacco products in Cambodia.

Dr. Susan Mercado, Regional Advisor of the Tobacco Free Initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO) for Western Pacific Region, said that tobacco contains more than 4,000 chemicals with at least 60 known carcinogens. She said that recently, the Ministers of Health, through the Regional Committee of the World Health Organization in the Western Pacific, endorsed the Regional Action Plan for the Tobacco Free Initiative for 2010-2014 which calls on countries to set targets for reducing prevalence rates for smoked and smokeless tobacco by 10 percent of the current baseline for men, women, boys and girls. She added that this consultation provides an opportunity for different stakeholders and decision-makers to review progress and focus on strategic actions that will bring them closer to complete implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Dr. Yel Daravuth, National Professional Officer of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Cambodia, said that tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death and more than five million people died from the effects of tobacco every year in the world. Dr. Daravuth said that tobacco is the product that killed when used exactly as the manufactures intended it to. Up to half of all smokers will die from a tobacco-related disease He stated that unless urgent action is taken, there will be more 8 millions deaths every year in the world by 2030. More than 80 percent of death will occur in developing countries. One third of the world smokers reside in the WHO Western Pacific Region and also two people will die from tobacco-related diseases every minute in this region.

He pointed out that Cambodia has been identified as having one of the highest rates of cigarette smoking in the Southeast Asia with recent estimates indicating that 48 percent of men and 36 percent of women over the age of 18 currently smoke either commercial or hand-rolled cigarettes and that 17 percent of women and 1 percent of men chewed the tobacco. He added that tobacco also affected household economy in Cambodia and the total annual tobacco spending by all smoking household in Cambodia is evaluated to many US$ millions in Cambodia.

According to the Global Youth Tobacco Survey 2005, smoking prevalence among youth aged between 13 and 15 showed that: 11.4 percent of boys and 3.2 percent of girls use some form of tobacco. Current smokers were 7.9 percent for boys and 1.0 percent girls.

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