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Sunday June 17, 2007

Smoking ban to be extended


KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry will ban smoking at more places once the “no smoking” rule at 19 designated areas is fully enforced. 

Health Ministry disease control division director Datuk Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman said that at present, many still broke the law on no smoking in designated areas. 

The 19 areas include hospitals/clinics, public lifts and toilets, air-conditioned restaurants, public transport, government premises, educational institutions, petrol stations, Internet cafes and shopping complexes. 

Speaking after launching the national-level Tobacco-Free Day 2007 celebration, Dr Hasan said the ministry was aware that even some MPs smoked inside Parliament House, a non-smoking government premises. 

However, he said, no MPs had so far been issued compounds for doing so. 

Still, he warned that the ministry was tough on such offenders, adding that last year, 506 people were brought to court for failing to pay compounds issued to them for smoking offences.  

Out of this, 117 people were fined a total of RM25,000 by the court, while two were sent to jail. 

Dr Hasan also said the Tak Nak campaign would be stepped up although people had questioned its effectiveness. 

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, whose speech was read by Dr Hasan, said that the theme of Tobacco-Free Day celebration which was “100% Smoke-Free Environment” was aimed at galvanising countries to take action to protect people from second-hand smoke. 

Dr Chua said that a 2006 study by the disease control division showed that the number of Malaysian smokers would rise from 3.1 million last year to 3.8 million in 2015 and over four million in 2020.  

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