KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 22 — Designated smoking zones in public areas are temporary and can only have basic facilities, the Housing and Local Government Ministry (KPKT) told local councils nationwide.
The Local Government Department under the federal ministry said local council approval must be obtained if the designated smoking areas involve construction of permanent structures.
Local Government Department director-general Noor-Ihsan Che Mat urged mayors and local council presidents to set up designated smoking zones “if there is a need and appropriate location”, as he highlighted Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin’s press statements instructing local authorities to do so, in line with the Cabinet’s decision last November 22.
“In this matter, YBhg. Datuk / Dato’ / Sir/ Madam is asked to get the views of the District Health Office before setting up a designated smoking area to ensure that construction is in line with guidelines by the Ministry of Health (MOH),” Noor-Ihsan said in a January 20 letter to local councils, sighted by CodeBlue.
His letter to 150 local councils throughout Malaysia also said local councils could fine smokers for littering in the designated smoking zones that must be located at least three metres away from eateries and outside smoking prohibition areas.
The designated smoking zones must provide a trash can and ashtray, with a clear “Kawasan Merokok” (Smoking Area) sign. No food or drink can be sold or served in those smoking areas.
“The designated smoking areas provided are temporary in nature and can be withdrawn when instructed,” said the Local Government Department director-general.
Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said earlier this month that her ministry has allocated RM1 million for local councils nationwide to form designated smoking areas in public, like commercial places and near food courts, after MOH enforced a smoking ban in eateries from January 1.
KPKT also encouraged restaurant owners to provide designated smoking areas three metres outside their premises, but at their own expense.
Doctors and anti-tobacco advocates slammed KPKT, saying that the RM1 million of public funds should go towards quit-smoking services instead.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said in its latest global tobacco report issued last month that Malaysia, like most countries, is projected to fail the global target for reducing tobacco use prevalence by 30 per cent by the year 2025 relative to 2010.
Instead, the WHO predicted that prevalence of tobacco use in Malaysia was expected to drop to 19.6 per cent by 2025, falling short of Malaysia’s goal of 15 per cent under its National Strategic Plan for Non-Communicable Disease 2016-2025.
Correction: CodeBlue misidentified Noor-Ihsan Che Mat’s position — he is Local Government Department director-general, not KPKT director-general. The error has been corrected.