Malaysia to ban smoking at all eateries, effective January 1, 2019

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Business, Food & Drink, Health & Fitness, Social, Breaking News 14 Nov 2018

KUALA LUMPUR: In September, Malaysia Deputy Health Minister Dr. Lee Boon Chye said a hefty amount of RM10,000 will be fined (or 2 years imprisonment) on those caught smoking or vaping in prohibited areas, while RM2,500 will be imposed on eateries operators that fail to enforce the ban on their premises, effective January 1, 2019.

Eatery operators including all air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned restaurants, coffee shops, open-air hawker and street vendors are expected to comply with the impending smoking ban in an effort to reduce tobacco consumption and make Malaysia tobacco-free by 2045.

The ban is not only to encourage smokers to quit the habit but also to protect non-smokers from second-hand smoke due to tobacco products.

Under the current Control of Tobacco Products (Amendment) Regulations 2017, smoking is ban in 21 areas including hospitals/clinics, airports, public toilets, lifts, government premises, public transport, educational institutions, petrol stations, internet cafes, shopping complexes, private office spaces, and air-conditioned shops.

Since 2016, the Ministry of Health Malaysia aims to reduce the numbers of smokers in Malaysia for over 15% as about RM3 bil was spent due to the increasing patients for chronic cancer.

Meanwhile, three associations Malaysia-Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors General Association, Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association and the Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owner Association representing over 20,000 operators nationwide, reacted to the announcement and voiced over their worry on decreasing number of patrons to their eatery, and eventually affected their business.

However, in refutes to the outcry, Dr. Lee said, "If we look at it, areas with a smoking ban make up less than one percent of the entire surface area in the country."

''There are still so many spaces where smokers can get their fix, but the ministry is open for discussion with the associations.''

''We can still continue to have dialogues.

''We are not saying that smokers cannot smoke, just that not at the designated areas where there's a ban.''

At the same time, Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations deputy president Yusof Abdul Rahman in support on the smoking ban moves.

He said the moves would be good for both the people and the environment. The government must be firm on their mission to achieve to reduce tobacco consumption by prohibiting the act in areas and to enforce it effectively.

"We have already tolerated too much when it comes to smokers. This time we need to consider the non-smokers rights or voices as well."
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