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Tuesday June 1, 2010

No more puffing away at work

KUALA LUMPUR: Smokers can no longer light up in workplaces with a centralised air-conditioning system, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

He said the Government had now gazetted such workplaces as no-smoking zones to protect the public from inhaling second-hand smoke.

“Employees have to stay in the office for eight hours per day and some even have to stay for 12 hours if they work overtime.

“So it is not good if they have to inhale second-hand smoke,” he told reporters after opening the national- level World No Tobacco Day at Mid Valley Megamall here yesterday.

The others non-smoking zones include government offices, universities and colleges, he said.

Liow said those who light up in non-smoking zones could be slapped with fines of up to RM10,000, or two years’ imprisonment.

He added that the ministry carried out 10,033 operations on 38,812 premises last year, issuing 6,619 compounds amounting to RM1.4mil.

“About 670 people have been charged in court with fines amounting to RM147,098.

“One person has even been jailed for smoking in a non-smoking zone,” he said.

Liow said the ministry would study the effectiveness of the pictorial warning on cigarette packs.

“Through an informal survey on my Twitter, we found out that some smokers are ‘immune’ to the gory pictures. We may introduce other new warnings,” he said.

KL & Selangor Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry deputy president Ter Leong Yap welcomed the ministry’s move. “I feel uneasy if someone smokes in an air-conditioned area as it is bad for our health,” he said, adding he believed most private sector buildings had implemented such a measure.

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