Multi-stakeholder dialogue reinforces the need for a Legal Purchase Age at 18 years old in Cambodia

Cambodia Investment Review

On 25th May 2023, public and private sector stakeholders met once again in the Technical workshop on “Legal Purchasing Age (LPA) research finding dissemination and discussion on next steps” to discuss the need for an LPA in Cambodia.

Presided over by H.E. Phan Oun, Delegation of the Royal Government and the Director General of the General Department of Competition and Fraud Suppression (CCF) under the Ministry of Commerce, the Asian Vision Institute (AVI) convened a follow-up dialogue session with stakeholders following a first meeting in January of this year where there was an overall agreement on the importance of an LPA for Cambodia.

Research shows that youth in Cambodia favour an LPA at 18

As part of the second dialogue session, findings from joint research conducted by AVI and MM4A on the perception of youth in Cambodia on setting an LPA were shared. They show that 85% of those surveyed support the introduction of an LPA in Cambodia and 73% state the legal age should be set at 18 years old.

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

The consensus among Cambodian youth who were surveyed reflects a concern on the issue of underage drinking, with 33% indicating they have consumed an alcoholic beverage before the age of 18, some even at the age 6. Moreover, 63% indicate they have purchased alcoholic beverage products in the off-trade retail space (convenience and grocery stores).

Legal Purchasing Age (LPA) Cambodia Workshop.

The findings strongly reinforce the current gap in Cambodia when it comes to youth accessing and purchasing alcoholic beverages. The private sector in Cambodia, including alcoholic beverage producers, distributors, retailers, as well as the hospitality and F&B sector, have pledged their public commitment to support the government’s efforts to protect those under 18 from accessing alcoholic beverages. As a united industry, the sector aims to participate in a responsible and compliant manner in the supply, sale and advertising of alcoholic beverages in Cambodia.

Setting an LPA is at urgency given a gap in regulation and law making

Cambodia remains one of the few countries in the world that does not have an LPA nor similar regulation that sets a legal age threshold to the supply, sale and advertising of alcoholic beverages.

Legal Purchasing Age (LPA) Cambodia Workshop.

To close the current gap, Professor Khat Chhor Vorn from the Royal University of Law and Economics (RULE) presented different pathways in Cambodia’s legal system to consider how to integrate regulation on an LPA in a timely manner. A number of effective tools include having a Sub-decree, a Ministerial Order/Prakas or incorporating LPA provisions into an existing regulation or law.

Developing a pathway forward involving all stakeholders

All delegates and participants were aligned on the need to move forward in a consensual manner, and that each of the stakeholders has a role to play in contributing towards reducing the harmful use of alcohol, changing harmful consumption behaviours, and acknowledging the value a whole-of-society approach can bring in this regard.

Legal Purchasing Age (LPA) Cambodia Workshop.

Concluding the fruitful dialogue session, H.E. Phan Oun emphasized “Today was a great sharing and discussing workshop that resulted in a strong consensus in setting an LPA for Cambodia at an appropriated age, in a form of a Legal Document. The Consumer Protection Competition and Fraud Repression Directorate-General (CCF) are fully supportive to this approach and delighted to take lead in this regard to draft a Sub-decree, organize relevant line ministries meetings and realize this important milestone in protecting Minors from accessing alcoholic beverage.”

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