The World Health Organisation (WHO) presented Cambodia Movement for Health (CMH) executive director Dr Mom Kong with a special award on Wednesday for his contribution to controlling the sale and use of tobacco in Cambodia.
WHO representative to Cambodia Dr Li Ailan said at the awards ceremony on Wednesday that it was a great honour to recognise Kong for his achievements.
During his more than 20 years of work, she said Kong had brought about countless achievements in the tobacco control sector. He was an important factor in the passage of the law on tobacco control in 2015, as well as the withdrawal of tobacco advertisements.
“Kong has the ability to cooperate with partners in the heart of the government, civil society organisations and media in encouraging tobacco control. More importantly, he encouraged Cambodian youths to participate in the effort to control the tobacco sector,” she said.
A CMH press release said Kong is leading the organisation in its continued effort to control tobacco in Cambodia. He hopes to mitigate the negative effects on citizens and the economy related to tobacco use.
It said Kong had regularly monitored and examined the implementation of the tobacco control laws. He also made reports to institutions and local authorities urging them to take action [against illegal tobacco].
“In the fight against tobacco in Cambodia, he advocated and launched several campaigns with relevant institutions, media, youths, women, teachers, monks and tobacco victims to encourage the enforcement of the law on tobacco control,” it said.
Kong told The Post on Wednesday that receiving the award marked a proud moment for him and all of Cambodia, which has gone through obstacles to improve tobacco control.
He said although the situation has improved, major obstacles remain because tobacco use is still widespread, especially among youths.
“Our country is on the right track towards progress. Even though it has yet to reach its goal, it is on the path we want. We have reduced the rate of smoking cigarettes. However, the number of cigarette smokers has not declined because the population has increased,” he said.
Kong said he remained committed to encouraging Cambodia to raise taxes on cigarettes to 75 per cent, implement more effective tobacco control laws and mobilise relevant parties to effectively control the sale of tobacco products.
A study by the UN Development Programme and the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control secretariat showed that tobacco use kills an average of 15,000 people every year in the country, with 33 per cent of deaths occurring among the lowest income brackets.
Citizens spend an average of $649 million on tobacco each year, equivalent to about three per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), according to the study.