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Holy Smoke

City Life - Holy Smoke
Developing countries like Cambodia bear the brunt of aggressive marketing techniques by huge multinational tobacco companies. The lure of cash from tobacco companies results in lenient advertising regulations. There are no health warnings on tobacco products in Cambodia, and no bans on sales to minors. Since 1993, there has been a ban on tobacco advertising on the public broadcast media. But it does not apply to private media, with surveys showing cigarette ads on television and radio quadrupling since 1996, tobacco advertising accounting for forty-six percent of all street advertising, and Japan Tobacco even advertising its Mild Seven cigarettes on ice cream trucks.

But not all is lost. Since the fall of the oppressive Khmer Rouge regime, religion that had previously been suppressed has reemerged, and asserted itself as an instrument of change. Buddhist monks are now spearheading the campaign to persuade Cambodians to give up tobacco -- a tough assignment in a country with one of the highest rates of smoking in the world and life expectancy of only fifty-four years.