27 July 2016
All cigarette packs sold in Cambodia should now be carrying pictorial warnings. However, several days after the law went into effect tobacco companies are not complying. According to a Cambodia Daily news report there was little evidence of the new packaging requirement in the market.
The tobacco companies were given nine months to comply, which is longer than the time given to the industry in Thailand, (3 months), Brunei, (4 months) and Malaysia (less than 7 months). However tobacco companies will test the government with non-compliance since enforcement authorities in poor countries are usually under-resourced and stretched.
Similar industry non-compliance in pictorial warnings was also seen in Indonesia where the companies were given 18 months but did not comply when the deadline arrived. Unfortunately in Indonesia there were no repercussions or penalties for the offending companies which included transnational tobacco companies.
In Cambodia, tobacco companies will face a fine of 4 million Riel, or $1,000, for failing to comply with the requirement, while retailers will be fined 10,000 riel ($2.50) per offense. This penalty is stipulated in a sub-decree issued in October 2015.
The tobacco industry describes cigarettes as a ‘fast moving consumer good’ (FMCG) on its websites. However when it comes to tobacco control regulations such as applying pictorial warnings on packs, the tobacco business suddenly transforms into a ‘slow moving consumer good’ demanding more time, usually more than 1 year “to clear its stock”. The industry routinely repeats this nonsensical argument to many governments.
The tobacco industry is notorious for breaking the law or circumventing it or delaying compliance. It is no surprise that tobacco companies in Cambodia are violating sub-decree requiring pictorial warnings on cigarette packs. Prominent pictorial warnings is bad for the tobacco business because it is effective in discourage smoking.
For more information on pack warnings see SEATCA Tobacco Packaging and Labelling Index here