The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport has found that children and youth have continued to purchase e-cigarettes – also known as vapes – via social media, despite the product being banned by the government.

The ministry held a March 22 workshop on the results of a survey and the impacts of e-cigarette use by the Phnom Penh municipal education department. The workshop was attended by officials from relevant institutions and representatives from a number of primary, secondary and high schools.

Education ministry undersecretary of state Soeur Socheata urged that public and private educational institutions at all levels continue to strengthen education and disseminate the ministry's guidelines on the prevention of the use of e-cigarettes in a comprehensive manner.

In cases where students are found to be using e-cigarettes, they must cooperate with the relevant authorities and parents or guardians of the students to determine who distribute them.

“The relevant ministries and institutions should take legal action against the distribution of e-cigarettes, especially sellers advertising on social media, such as Facebook, Tik-Tok and Instagram, which are the main sources of e-cigarette distribution to children and young people,” she said.

Cambodia Movement for Health (CMH) executive director Mom Kong said that the ministry has urged school administrators to monitor and prevent students at schools from continuing to use e-cigarettes because they contain nicotine, which he said is very addictive.

“The main source for children and youths who can afford to buy e-cigarettes is social media. So even if the education ministry and the school administrators pay close attention, it will not be possible to prevent children and young people from using e-cigarettes if they continue to be advertised on social media,” he said.

He called on the authorities at all levels to take legal action against those who advertise and sell e-cigarettes on social media as strictly as possible to protect children and young people from nicotine addiction.