Cambodia’s private sector joins to implement minimum legal purchase age for alcohol

Cambodia Investment Review

The private sector in Cambodia has pledged to support the government’s efforts to prevent people under 18 years old from accessing alcoholic beverages. Despite being one of the few countries without a minimum Legal Purchase Age (LPA), the industry is taking steps to prevent underage drinking, harmful consumption, and promote moderate use of their products.

The announcement of the government’s plan to establish a legal minimum age limit for alcohol consumption in May 2022 has been met with enthusiasm and appreciation from the industry. The private sector further supports the consensus reached on the need for an LPA during a multi-stakeholder dialogue in January 2023 and in meetings with Cambodia’s top leaders in February 2023.

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

The government announced plans to establish a legal minimum age limit for alcohol consumption in May 2022

The private sector is committed to supporting and working with line ministries and civil society to achieve this important regulation. The industry supports an LPA of 18 years old, which is consistent with other jurisdictions in the region and globally. The private sector is prepared to raise awareness around the LPA and ensure that those serving or selling alcoholic beverages are trained to identify and deny service to underage customers.

Key quotes and signatures from industry leaders include:

  • Mr. Daren Ong, Managing Director of Pernod Ricard Cambodge: “Pernod Ricard Cambodge are fully committed to support the introduction of an LPA in Cambodia and will continue to walk our talk by being part of the industry’s next movements on the topic as for us, nothing is more important than to collectively protect the youth’s health including preventing the underage from consuming alcohol.”
  • Mr. Ser Chhay Tan, CEO of Attwood Import Export Co. Ltd: “Attwood strongly supports the alcohol LPA age of 18. Allowing individuals aged 18 or over to purchase alcohol responsibly encourages them to make well-informed decisions, while still emphasising the importance of moderation in consumption. This age limit also serves to reduce alcohol-related crime and disorder. Ultimately, setting an age limit for legal alcohol purchasing helps to protect individuals and the community at large.”
  • Mr. Mike Vongsykeo, COO of S-Liquor: “S-Liquor are fully committed and supportive for the introduction of an LPA of 18+ in Cambodia. As the frontline to our consumers, we would take the LPA very seriously and want to make sure that we only sell alcohol to our consumers of the proper legal age (18+). I.D. would be required if our consumers look under 18 and this would be enforced both in our retail stores and deliveries. Nothing is more important to us then the future health of our next generation and preventing minors consuming alcohol underage.”
  • Mr. Sothea Rami Sambath, CEO of Auskhmer Import Export: “Auskhmer as one of the main F&B importer and distributor for over 20 years in Cambodia strongly support the alcohol LPA age of 18. As part of our mission, we encourage and would like to educate consumers aged 18 or over to purchase alcohol responsibly. By setting an age limit for alcohol consumption individuals will have a better understanding of the harmful effects and impact on public health and safety. This will put a first brick to what remains to be done for the Cambodian consumers and educate them how to drink moderately.”
  • Mr. Tomas Gimenez, General Manager of ABInbev Cambodia and Laos: ““ABInBev is committed and supportive of the introduction of an LPA as we have supported across the world. Consumers are at the center of our business and it’s our responsibility to ensure that their safety is our top priority. Establishing an LPA in Cambodia brings the industry one step closer towards this goal as it provides consumers protection when it comes to the supply, sale and advertising of alcohol.”
  • Managing Director of HEINEKEN Cambodia, Mr. Samson Wong, emphasised that promoting moderation, responsible consumption, and preventing the harmful use of alcohol is a key part of their strategy. He also mentioned that an LPA (Legal Purchase Age) plays a vital role in achieving their Responsible Marketing Code. Mr. Wong expressed his satisfaction with the industry’s wide support for the initiative and looks forward to continuing the dialogue to promote responsible consumption of their products in Cambodia.
  • Cambrew Ltd, part of the Carlsberg Group, shared that they are ready to support the government’s decision to establish a minimum LPA. The company is committed to promoting Responsible Drinking through its Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) program. As part of their program, they will include the legal drinking age on the label of all their alcoholic products before the end of 2024. They will also run responsible drinking campaigns internally and externally to promote responsible drinking awareness and alcohol awareness.
  • CEO of Hanuman Beverages Co., Ltd, Charles Geschke, stated that they are committed to Cambodia’s development and that setting international standards within the industry for consumption and responsible promotion of alcohol is critical to achieving this goal. Mr. Geschke said that they are ready to support the government in implementing these standards, and starting with an LPA of 18 years old is a significant step forward in promoting responsible consumption of alcohol in Cambodia.
  • The Cambodia Restaurant Association (CRA) supports the government’s decision to establish a legal age of 18 for purchasing alcohol. CRA Chairman, Mr. Arnaud Darc, highlighted the importance of setting an age that represents maturity and responsibility. He stressed that it is crucial to differentiate between children and adults in terms of alcohol consumption. Children who drink alcohol place themselves at higher risk of various hazardous situations, such as alcohol poisoning, drunk driving, and other serious problems. Additionally, by setting the age of 18, the government can control alcohol use, as 18-year-olds are not typically able to purchase alcohol without assistance from an adult.
  • Chairman of the Asia Pacific International Spirits & Wines Alliance (APISWA), Vijay Subramaniam, expressed the association’s commitment to reducing harmful alcohol use and supporting international goals towards eliminating the marketing, advertising, and sale of alcohol products to minors. Mr. Subramaniam welcomed the introduction of a Legal Purchase Age (LPA) at 18 years old in Cambodia as an important mechanism to protect Cambodia’s youth from accessing alcohol. He added that they stand ready to support the government in realising this goal by sharing international best practices and supporting implementation efforts on the ground.

The private sector believes that they have a role to play in reducing the harmful use of alcohol and changing harmful consumption behaviors. The industry is committed to promoting responsible drinking and collaborating with public and private stakeholders. The private sector welcomes the government’s efforts to promote responsible alcohol consumption and looks forward to supporting the implementation of this initiative.

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