Eateries Question Cost, Safety Of Outside Smoking Areas

Various countries like Japan and Italy provide smoking rooms in restaurants.

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8 — Setting up designated smoking areas outside restaurants would incur costs and possibly obstruct parking or endanger smokers, eatery owners said.

Malaysia-Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors General Association chairman Ho Su Mong urged the government to help restaurateurs, pointing out that Singapore has set up designated smoking areas known as yellow boxes.

“This would be better because for restaurants to set up smoking areas outside our premises, we need the approval of the local government and we can’t just set up anywhere we like,” Ho told The Star.

Original Penang Kayu Nasi Kandar managing director Burhan Mohamed reportedly said setting up smoking areas three metres away from restaurants would still require approval from local authorities as these would be on public land.

“Yes, we can ask for their approval but it will ultimately depend on the location. We have to study the place to see whether the area is safe for smokers or if parking will be obstructed and if we need to buy insurance,” Burhan told The Star.

Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma) president Datuk Jawahar Ali Taib Khan was, however, quoted saying that improved business would outweigh the costs of setting up the smoking areas.

“If the government can consider allowing designated smoking areas for our customers, most of our eateries will not mind having to bear the cost for it,” he said.

The Star also reported that various countries like Japan, Italy, India, Poland, and South Africa all permit lighting up in designated smoking areas in restaurants and bars.

Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin yesterday announced that local councils nationwide could apply for funding from her federal ministry to build designated smoking zones — comprising a seat, shelter, and ashtray — in public areas like food courts and commercial places.

She also told restaurant owners to bear the costs of setting up smaller designated smoking areas with canopies three metres away from their premises, based on guidelines by the Housing and Local Government Ministry.

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