KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 2 — Despite “education” by health authorities last year, Malaysian smokers claimed they were still unaware of a smoking ban at all eateries that was finally enforced yesterday.
Under the new ruling, those found smoking or vaping in prohibited areas may get an RM250 compound or face a RM10,000 fine if brought to court, while restaurant operators who fail to put up no-smoking signs risk a fine not exceeding RM3,000 or jail time of up to six months.
The new law has been in effect since January 1 last year, but smokers were given a “grace period” or 12 months, which the Ministry of Health (MOH) labelled as educational enforcement.
More than 160 smokers and restaurant owners were issued compound fine notices for smoking offences yesterday, according to Bernama.
The national newswire reported that four compound notices were issued during ongoing enforcement operations at three locations in the capital, with Titiwangsa senior environmental health officer, Nordayana Musa, saying some smokers were “begging” to be issued warnings instead.
In Pahang, 51 individuals were issued compounds for not abiding by the no-smoking rule at all eateries in the state as of 2pm yesterday, while four food outlets were issued compound notices for allowing their customers to smoke and for failing to display a no-smoking sign.
Meanwhile, in Negri Sembilan, 95 enforcement officers from seven district health offices in the state recorded 42 notices issued through inspections on 379 eateries.
In Perak, no compounds were issued, while in Selangor, a total of 64 compound notices were issued by the Selangor Health Department as of 3pm yesterday.
Bernama also reported that food premises on Kelantan “completely ignored” the enforcement of the smoking ban.
Meanwhile, a total of 5,000 personnel have been deployed by MOH nationwide to implement the no-smoking ban, according to Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye.
Dr Lee, according to the News Straits Times, added that night-time enforcement operations, including in areas outside of cities, will be ramped up, as many people tend to flout the ruling during late hours of the day.
He also noted that there has been a drastic reduction of smokers in eateries since the government gazetted no-smoking areas, which include eateries last year.
The RM250 compound for smokers caught smoking in no-smoking zones can be reduced to RM150 if it is the first offence, and is settled within a month, according to MOH.
No reductions will be given for those who commit a second offence, and will have to pay the full amount. Third-time offenders will have to pay a compound of RM350.
Eatery owners, on the other hand, are also forbidden from providing amenities that enable smokes. This includes ashtrays or shisha services.
Failure to comply with the ruling can see business owners issued a RM250 compound for the first and second offences, and RM350 for the third offence.
Complaints and tip-offs to MOH on smokers at eateries or eateries that do not follow the smoking ban can be done via WhatsApp at 010-8608949 or by calling 03-88924530.
Dr Lee previously said that the smoking ban would go as planned and would not be postponed again.