Smoking Ban Blamed For 2,000 Coffee Shops’ Closure

Some operators claimed their business dropped by 30%.

KUALA LUMPUR, July 19 — One in five coffee shops, or over 2,000, have shut down over the past six months because of a ban on smoking in restaurants, operators alleged.

The Malaysian Insight reported that the number could be higher because the closures cited only involved those registered with the Malaysia-Singapore Coffeeshop Owners’ Association.

“We are the victims of the ban. We are the ones facing problems,” Malaysia-Singapore Coffeeshop Owners’ Association president Ho Su Mong was quoted saying.

“Some operators claimed their business had dipped by as much as 30 per cent”.

John Ee Hong, who operates the Cosans Coffee chain outlet, told The Malaysian Insight that his monthly revenue dropped to RM15,000 in June from RM50,000 last December before the smoking ban was enforced in January.

“This is my last month in business. I am selling this shop,” he was quoted saying, referring to his Subang Jaya outlet.

He reportedly said he had to lay off 10 workers.

“I really love this new (Pakatan Harapan) government which I voted for but for the government to implement such a policy, it should think of its implications on the community, especially the business community,” Hong was quoted saying.

“They need to give us notice of at least a few years before implementing such a policy. It will give us time to deal with the new policy. Three months’ notice, as what happened, was too short”.

The Health Ministry has postponed enforcement of the nationwide smoking ban at eateries to January next year.

Smokers may only smoke at least three metres away from the threshold of restaurants. Violations of the ruling can lead to fines of up to RM10,000 or two years’ jail. 

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

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