Prime Minister Hun Manet instructed relevant authorities to review the advertising of alcoholic beverages – especially on billboards, television and radio – with a view to introduce an advertising code to help reduce the number of traffic accidents that are caused by drink driving.
The prime minister’s instructions came at a plenary session of the Council of Ministers on Friday, when he asked the Ministry of Information in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Commerce to establish a precise new code of conduct to regulate all forms of alcoholic beverage advertising in Cambodia.
Government spokesman Pen Bona said Prime Minister Hun Manet intends to reduce the number of traffic accidents caused by persons driving under the influence of alcohol.
He said another important aim is to ensure that alcohol advertising on television and on billboards are appropriate and not excessive.
“Once the code of advertising conduct is in place, it will establish how much alcohol advertising is permitted in media, like on public billboards, and then to make sure all stakeholders are aware of the new rules,” he said.
Mom Kong, president of the Cambodian Movement for Health, sees Mr Hun Manet’s move as a positive beginning, and that it is certainly necessary to introduce legislation that controls and limits the advertising of alcoholic beverages.
Kong said that if the government banned alcohol advertising completely, that would be the most effective outcome, especially because it would prevent children and young people from becoming prematurely exposed and addicted to alcohol in the first place.
“What we can do now for advertising should be to permit only advertising of the name brand and logo of the alcohol product, in case we do not completely shut down alcohol advertising,” he added.
Kim Pagna, director of the Asian Injury Prevention Foundation (AIP), believes that Cambodia should not allow alcohol advertising at all in any form, and he cites the current ban on cigarette advertising as the best and most effective example.
Looking ahead, he suggested that the Ministry of Health should establish a deadline after which all forms of alcohol advertising would be forbidden.
In his view, the government may not yet impose a total ban. However, the authorities can always establish time limits, especially during Buddhist holidays and national holidays, when it will be forbidden to advertise alcoholic beverages.
At the same time, he said key educational messages should be promoted, for example, “If you drink alcohol, do not drive.”