KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 29 — A smokers’ group today lost a judicial review they filed at the High Court here to challenge a ban on smoking in restaurants.
Free Malaysia Today (FMT) reported Justice Mariana Yahya as saying that the group was misconceived in claiming that the ban had violated their rights.
“They claimed that the ban was against their rights under the Federal Constitution.
“However, they can still smoke outside, three metres or 10 feet outside the premises. There are no laws forbidding the applicant group from smoking in total,” she was quoted saying.
Mariana also pointed out that the government has gazetted 23 areas since 1993 as smoke-free zones, like hospitals, government offices, and petrol stations.
“For the applicants to complain that the smoking ban, which was extended to restaurants, is discriminatory, does not arise,” she said.
Haniff Khatri Abdulla, who represented the group of seven individuals called “Defenders of Smokers’ Rights”, reportedly said his clients would appeal against the court decision.
Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad congratulated Health Ministry officials for enforcing the smoking ban in restaurants.
The Star reported last January that the seven applicants suing the Health Ministry are Mohd Hanizam Yunus, 52, Zulkifli Mohamad, 56, Mohd Laisani Dollah, 46, Mohd Sufian Awaludin, 35, Ridzuan Muhammad Noor, 52, Mohd Yazid Mohd Yunus, 48, and Yuri Azhar Abdollah, 39.
They had claimed that Malaysians who smoked would be constructively isolated from visiting eateries due to the ban, saying that smokers had equal rights as non-smokers in patronising such premises and that they should be allowed to spend as much time as they wanted there.
The group sought a court declaration that the smoking ban contradicted the Federal Constitution, as well as a court order to prohibit the Health Ministry from enforcing the ban.
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.