The number of men who smoke in Cambodia dropped by almost a third in the past decade, while women smokers nearly halved, according to a government report.
Figures showed that 48.98 percent of men aged 18 and older smoked ten years ago, but that has now dropped to 35.3 percent.
The proportion of women who smoke fell from 20.53 percent to 11.6 percent in the same period, according to the National Centre for Health Promotion report, which was published yesterday.
The report said there were 1.68 million cigarette smokers in Cambodia, mostly people on low incomes. About $200 million is spent on cigarettes each year, while about $163 million is spent on treating tobacco-linked diseases.
The report added that about 60 percent of non-smokers in Cambodia say they are affected by smoking in their workplace and public areas.
Health Minister Mam Bunheng said tobacco use was an obstacle to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, since it harmed public health, the economy and the environment.
“The Health Ministry wants to introduce a ban on smoking at work and in public places, prohibit tobacco advertising, and stop sponsorship and promotions by tobacco manufacturers,” he said.
Dr Bunheng added that officials also wanted to strengthen warnings and images printed on tobacco products and expand public health campaigns discouraging smoking.
March last year, the Council of Ministers approved a sub-decree prohibiting smoking or tobacco usage in public places and put in place fines for offending individuals and businesses.
The sub-decree, which comes 11 months after the law on tobacco control was passed by the National Assembly, bans the consumption of tobacco products at the workplace and public areas, such as restaurants, hotels and public transport.
Individuals found violating this ban will face a fine of 20,000 riel ($5), whereas establishments will have to cough up 50,000 riel ($12.50) if they fail to put up no smoking signs or are caught providing customers with ashtrays.
The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance last month called on the government to increase tax on tobacco to improve public health and reduce poverty in the country.