KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 4 – Restaurant operators are asking for designated smoking zones following the government’s smoking ban in eateries effective January 1 this year.
The ban is currently in its one-year grace period before fines are issued, but the operators are complaining that customers are unfazed about the new rules and continue to smoke in the outlets.
Malaysia Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors’ General Association president Ho Su Mong told The Malaysian Insight that despite the Health Ministry’s grace period, there are those who still rampantly disobey the rules.
Ho also requested for closer smoking zones instead of the three-metre distance regulation they currently have to observe. As for how far away designated smoking areas should be from eateries, Ho said this could be negotiated.
“I hope that Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad can find a win-win solution for this matter, including considering designated smoking zones, before full enforcement on January 1 next year,” Ho told the news portal.
Expressing hopes that Malaysia could model its smoking ban based on neighbouring Singapore’s practice where smokers can light up in designated yellow boxes, Ho mentioned that Health Ministry and Housing and Local Government Ministry, which governs business premises, should join forces to allow smoking zones closer to restaurants.
“If we ban smoking and anger customers as a result, we are the ones who suffer. These customers will not return, and we bear the fines if summoned by enforcement officers because of smoking customers,” he was quoted as saying.
The ban on smoking in public spaces was imposed on January 1, with fines of up to RM10,000 or two years’ jail on patrons, as well as a fine of not more than RM5,000 or one year’s imprisonment on owners of premises who fail to implement the rule.
The implementation and enforcement of the smoking ban have been delayed until the end of the year.
A decision on the review application has been set for October 29.