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Multi-stakeholder dialogue held to discuss regulations around sale and advertising alcohol in Cambodia

Cambodia Investment Review

A multi-stakeholder dialogue was held in Phnom Penh to explore the adoption of a Legal Purchase Age (LPA) at 18 years old in Cambodia. Attended by representatives from the public and private sector, the dialogue was organised by the Cambodian Safety Solution Organisation (CAMSAFE) and the Asian Vision Institute (AVI).

According to data from the World Health Organization’s Global Health Observatory, 19% of 15- to 19-year-old youths in Cambodia are current drinkers. 28% of males in this age group drink alcohol and 11% of females.

Potential changes to the sale and advertising of alcohol

The need to limit youth access to alcohol is important because of the harms associated with drinking at an early age and its long-term impact on a child’s development. Countries have adopted an LPA, a law that specifies the legal age when an individual can purchase an alcoholic beverage on- and off-premises.

Specifically, the introduction of an Legal Purchase Age provides important protections when it comes to the sale and advertising of alcohol. In other jurisdictions, an LPA ensures alcohol is not sold or willing advertised to minors. As a result, it has been shown to be an effective policy tool to reduce and prevent youth drinking.

The discussion was attended by several key members from various government ministries.

Cambodia remains one of the few countries in the world and the only country in ASEAN without a minimum LPA. Whilst there is no consensus internationally regarding the age when alcohol intake becomes appropriate, the most commonly applied age is 18 years old in ASEAN countries. Globally, close to 80% of countries with an LPA have set the legal age at 18 years old.

In May 2022, H.E. Senior Minister Sun Chanthol, Ministry of Public Works and Transport, announced the government’s intention to set a legal minimum age limit for alcohol consumption. Officials from his Ministry, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, and the Ministry of Health hoped to reach a consensus soon.

Multi-stakeholder dialogue session

Building on from the government’s announcement, the multi-stakeholder dialogue this week provided an opportunity for stakeholders from the private and public sector to share their perspectives on this important topic.

Read more: Fighting the illicit alcohol trade in Cambodia and ASEAN

Key line ministries were in attendance, along with civil society and private sector representatives, international embassies and trade associations. The event was presided over by H.E Min Meanvy, Secretary of State, Ministry of Public Works and Transport and Secretary-General of the National Road Safety Committee.

Cambodia currently has no minimum legal for buying alcohol.

Participants explored the proposal for an LPA in Cambodia and its implications, as well as the potential benefits, risks and challenges that could arise from the adoption of such a policy. It further provided a platform for stakeholders to share their perspectives on how best to ensure that any changes introduced into Cambodia’s regulatory framework are effective, equitable and sustainable. There was an overall agreement on the importance of an LPA for Cambodia and need to put one in place in the country.

Beyond the adoption of an LPA, the multi-stakeholder dialogue session was an important demonstration that shared solutions and robust partnerships among private and public sector and communities are key to reducing youth drinking.

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