Local Councils Building Smoking Zones, Restaurants Also Allowed

Local councils will eventually mandate restaurant owners to set up designated smoking areas 3 metres away from their premises.

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 7 — The Housing and Local Government Ministry (KPKT) will form designated smoking zones in the public and near restaurants amid a smoking ban.

The designated smoking areas in the public will have a seat, shelter, and ashtray, like the model in Ampang, Selangor, the federal constituency of Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin.

Each of these smoking areas, she said, costs about RM5,000. Local councils are encouraged to submit funding applications to KPKT to build designated smoking zones in common areas like commercial places or near food courts, which are estimated to cost about RM1 million for 155 local councils throughout the country.

As for restaurants, Zuraida said local councils are currently “recommending” them to build smaller designated smoking areas — with a canopy and ashtray — three metres away from their premises, as per Ministry of Health (MOH) rules. But local authorities will eventually “want them to enforce it” if smokers do not have a place to light up.

Restaurant owners will bear the cost of constructing “mini” designated smoking areas outside their premises, based on KPKT guidelines, as Zuraida recommended nearby eateries to group together and share the cost.

“It’s to satisfy the smokers to show that the government is concerned about their plight, the government is concerned about their needs.

Zuraida Kamaruddin, Housing and Local Government Minister

“So it’s a transition period, so we provide that facility so that they would be more willing to accept this policy of no-smoking at the eateries,” Zuraida told reporters in her office here today.

“So it’s just a matter of time, give them one, two years, they’ll be very comfortable soon.”

If designated smoking zones work well, the PKR leader even said that she would request the Finance Ministry to provide additional funds.

When asked if KPKT was indirectly supporting smoking, Zuraida said: “We are just facilitating, for 20 per cent of smokers in Malaysia. They also pay tax.”

MOH finally enforced a smoking ban in restaurants from January 1, fining people who smoke or vape within the premises, including at open-air eateries.

MOH has so far issued compounds exceeding half a million ringgit for smoking violations in just five days from January 1 to 5 against smokers and restaurant owners.

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