Monday, March 1, 2010

Parliaments and Youths Meet to Discuss Tobacco Impact

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

About 200 Cambodian students and youth met with their parliaments to raise their concerns for the impact of tobacco use in Cambodia.

The meeting was made through a “Youth Forum on Impacts of Tobacco Users,” which was organized by 14 youth associations based in Cambodia, aiming to raise awareness about tobacco use as well as to promote people’s healthcare in Cambodia.

Hou Sry, Parliamentary member in Phnom Penh, said that the Royal Government of Cambodia is very concerned about the people’s healthcare, especially the youths who are the bamboo point and strong pillars of the country.

Parliamentary member Hou Sry continued to say that his government always supported civil societies and youth associations’ initiatives and activities in raising tobacco awareness to improve the peoples’ health as well as poverty reduction and economic growth in Cambodia.

“The tobacco use has really impacted users, both their health and their incomes. To reduce the tobacco users and to improve the people’s health, I agree that we have to set up a law against it and its advertising in Cambodia in the future,” he added.

He went on to say that to make Cambodia a city with cigarette smoking as well as to promote people’s healthcare, the Royal government of Cambodia and the National Assembly would adopt a law on tobacco control in the future.

Thai Seila, Representative of the Youth for Peace, said that the tobacco industry has focused its goals on the youth markets via its complex strategic markets in Cambodia.

Seila said that the youths have also become the new clients of the tobacco industry replacing the old clients [tobacco users] who have died by diseases caused from tobacco uses in Cambodia.

“We are now very concerned about the impact of the tobacco use and tobacco industry for the youth in Cambodia. On behalf of the youth in Cambodia, I would like to appeal to the parliaments who are the youths’ representatives here to encourage the Royal Government of Cambodia in adopting the law on tobacco control as soon as possible so that we all can be free from the danger of tobacco industry in Cambodia in the future,” he said.

Dr. Mom Kong, Executive Director of the Cambodia Movement for Health (CMH), said that Cambodia has drafted a Law on Tobacco Control since 2003 but so far, the draft of law has not passed yet because it is still seeking supports from the public and involved ministries and institutes before its adaptation.

Dr. Kong stated that Cambodia has also ratified the Convention on Tobacco Control and has also become as a member of this convention since 2005. He added that nowadays over 90 percent of Cambodian people including youths and Buddhist monks have requested the Cambodian government to pass the Law on Tobacco Control in order to promote people’s health care and to reduce the poverty in Cambodia.

“I would like to request the government to adopt the Law on Tobacco Control soon because we think that if we have no law we can do nothing to promote the people’s health and poverty reduction in country,” he said.

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 kills when used exactly as the manufacture intends. Up to half of all smokers will die from a tobacco-related disease. He stated that unless urgent action is taken, there will be eight million deaths every year in the world by 2030. More than 80 percent of deaths will occur in developing countries. One third of the world smokers reside in the WHO Western Pacific Region and two people 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 Southeast Asia with recent estimates indicating that 48 percent of men and 3.6 percent of women over the age of 18 currently smoke either commercial or hand-rolled cigarettes and that 17 percent of women and one percent of men chew 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 be millions of dollars 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; 15 percent were offered free cigarettes by a tobacco company representative in the last month; 50 percent has one or more parents who smoke; and 12 percent of never smokers are likely to initiate smoking next year. ////

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