Smoking Ban Hotline Restored

Back in business.

KUALA LUMPUR, June 20 — The Ministry of Health’s hotline for people to lodge complaints and report on non-compliance with the government’s smoking ban in restaurants and public places has been unblocked and is active.

Service was restored after being previously blocked by the mobile messaging app due to privacy issues.

Messages sent by CodeBlue this morning to the hotline found the Tobacco Control Sector responding to messages sent earlier, requesting for information and details.

Screenshot from WhatsApp message to hotline CREDIT: CodeBlue

Previous messages sent to the number showed no indication of successfully going through. There was no double tick to indicate that a message has been received by the recipient.

Privacy concerns allegedly raised by complaints lodged with WhatsApp resulted in the blocking of the hotline number.

WhatsApp’s privacy policy under its terms of service states that “You will not use (or assist others in using) our services in ways that: (a) violate, misappropriate, or infringe the rights of WhatsApp, our users, or others, including privacy, publicity, intellectual property, or other proprietary rights.”

The ministry hotline enables members of the public to report on those who smoke in public places and eateries, as part of its enforcement efforts to enforce these areas as no-smoking zones. These reports would require inclusion of photos and the location of where these incidences occured.

The smoking ban in restaurants was imposed on Jan 1, with fines of up to RM10,000 or two years’ jail on smokers who break the rule. Smokers may only smoke three metres away from the threshold of restaurants.

Restaurant owners also face RM5,000 fines or one year’s imprisonment if they allow smoking at their premises.

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