Khmer Times/Ros Chanveasna
Wednesday, 04 May 2016
Young people drink at a local bar in Phnom Penh. KT/ Fabien Mouret
With the World Health Organization (WHO) attributing alcohol consumption to 2,000 deaths and injuries across the Kingdom last year, the organization collaborated with the Cambodian Movement for Health (CMH) to hold a competition for young filmmakers to create a video on the dangers of alcohol consumption, with the award ceremony held yesterday.
Sao Chansothirak from CETEC University, who came first out of 10 contaestants, said he felt his video would help raise awareness of the risks of alcohol consumption on Cambodia’s youth.
“It’s an opportunity for me to make a significant contribution to educate young people to understand the negative impacts of alcohol consumption through my video clip,” he said.
Leaving the ceremony, Mom Kong, the executive director at CMH, asked the government to strictly control alcohol sales in Cambodia, adding there was growing support within the NGO community for more action to be taken.
“In the past, the number of civil society organizations have joined with the government to debate and comment on the future of the draft law,” he said.
The law, which was drafted in July last year but has yet to be approved, sets the legal age limit for alcohol consumption at 21, with Cambodia being among a small number of countries that has no legal drinking age.
Mr. Kong said following the WHO’s global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol, civil society organizations pointed to four important solutions aimed at more responsible drinking, such as increasing taxes on alcohol, banning alcohol advertisements, age limitations on the sale and purchasing of alcohol.
Mr. Chansothirak urged the government to pass the draft law.
“I will be happy and I extremely support the government for this remarkable ongoing work on the alcohol control law to ban the sale (of alcohol) at a young age,” he said.
WHO representative in Cambodia James Rasick said that alcohol consumption can have a critical effect on brain development during adolescence and urged the government to pass the draft law.
“Consumption of alcohol during this period impacts these developmental changes and increases a young person’s risk of physical, sexual and emotional harm,” he said.
“The draft law on alcohol product control contains important measures that will have a direct impact on youth consumption of alcohol, including regulation of alcohol adverting, promotion and sponsorship and stronger measures on the licensing of alcohol manufacturers, importers, distributers and sellers of alcohol products.”
According to the Global School Health Survey conducted in 2013, one in 10 Cambodian students between the ages of 13 and 17 reported that they drank alcohol. Among those, nearly one-third indicated that they drank two or more drinks when they did consume alcohol.
Last year, the WHO revealed that alcohol caused more than 2,000 deaths and injuries, amounting to $44 million worth of damages every year.
Alcohol is the third-biggest cause of death worldwide almost every year, with more than 2.5 million deaths in 2015.