KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 2 — The Kuching South City Council (MBKS) is identifying potential areas as designated smoking zones, as the nationwide smoking ban at eateries comes into force.
MBKS mayor Wee Hong Seng said late last month that smoking areas must be set up for those who vape or smoke, even if the end goal is to ask them to quit smoking or vaping.
“So that’s why I have asked my officers to look around for potential areas near eateries — we will try to set up smoking zones for them,” he said, as reported by The Borneo Post, adding that pubs and clubs are classified as no-smoking zones too.
Wee also said the smoking zones should be sheltered for the convenience of smokers, clarifying, though, that he was not encouraging smokers.
“But I think we have to get them a place not strictly under the sun or rain. We will try to be creative setting up the smoking zones… It will be outside the coffee shop, within council areas,” he reportedly said during a press conference in Kuching, Sarawak, on Monday.
No deadlines were set to create MBKS’s designated smoking zones, the daily added.
This comes after Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said local authorities nationwide would be requested to identify suitable locations to be turned into designated smoking zones, in phases.
However, in her December 22 statement, she did not list which councils have been selected to go ahead with the plan to have designated smoking areas in place. Apart from MBKS, the Ampang Jaya City Council has prepared special smoking zones three metres away from public eateries.
Those found smoking or vaping in prohibited areas may get an RM250 compound, or face a maximum RM10,000 fine or up to two years’ jail if brought to court. Restaurant operators who fail to put up no-smoking signs also face an RM250 compound, or risk a fine not exceeding RM3,000 or imprisonment of up to six months if prosecuted.
Smokers and restaurant operators who commit a second offence also get an RM250 compound, while third-time offenders will have to cough up RM350. Eatery owners are also forbidden from providing ashtrays and shisha services.
The new law has been in effect since January 1 last year, but smokers were given a “grace period” or 12 months, labelled by the Ministry of Health as educational enforcement.