THE extension of the smoking ban to all eateries nationwide has garnered mixed views from the public.
While some Ipoh folk are all for the ban, certain restaurant owners and smokers have their own suggestions.
MetroPerak spoke to some customers and eatery owners to learn their views about the ban, which was posted on the Health Ministry website recently.
Driver Mohd Razi Abd Manan, 48, said he agreed with the ban because he found the smell of cigarette smoke uncomfortable when he was eating.
“I’m more worried about the health of my children. They are not aware of the dangerous effects of the smoke,” he told MetroPerak when met at Restoran Nasi Vanggey in Greentown, Ipoh yesterday.
The father of three children aged seven to 15 added that secondhand smoke is bad for non-smokers.
“It can still cause cancer, and I think it is nice if my family can eat in peace, especially in my favourite mamak stall,” said Mohd Razi, who is a non-smoker.
It was recently reported in The Star that smoking will soon be banned at all eateries in the country, including open-air premises and those without air-conditioning.
This will mean that people are restricted from smoking at mamak stalls, kopitiam and food courts as well, according to the Health Ministry website.
Long-time smoker P. Rasu, 48, said he thinks that the ban was a good idea.
“I have been trying to quit smoking and I’m doing this by gradually reducing the number of cigarettes I smoke in a day.
“I used to smoke one packet a day, but now it takes me two to three days to finish one.
“The ban will probably strengthen a smoker’s resolve to quit,” he said.
The adjusting company manager, who has been smoking for around 20 years, said he decided to quit because he was diagnosed with diabetes.
“I’m also thinking of my children,” said Rasu.
Also a smoker, contractor Ooi Sung Ming thinks the ban is “no big deal”.
“I wouldn’t mind because it is all for the sake of the public’s health.
“If the ban is put into effect, I will just have to find somewhere else to smoke,” he said.
Ooi, in his 40s, has been smoking for over 30 years.
When asked if he had any thoughts of quitting the habit, he said no.
Meanwhile, private sector worker Aminuddin Mukhtar, 47, said he was against the ban.
“There are many public places where we aren’t allowed to smoke, including the rest areas along the highways.
“I think it is only fair they divide restaurants into smoking and non-smoking areas, instead of a total ban.
“We smokers have rights too,” he said, adding that many smokers favour lighting up at mamak stalls because it was a place to chill out with friends after a long day at work.
Meanwhile, Crossover Cafe co-owner Tan Keng Hooi, 75, said he welcomed the Health Ministry’s proposal for the ban.
“Whether our customers choose to obey the rules is another issue.
“I have met some customers who are stubborn. They choose to smoke even when they are sitting inside the coffee shop.
“We can’t stop them, because ultimately, we have no air-conditioning,” he said.
Tan added that he was concerned the ban would affect his business.
“We don’t want any trouble with customers who still smoke in our coffee shop if the ban is truly extended.
“If the Health Ministry could enforce the ban, that would be great,” he said.
Oldtown White Coffee outlet manager Amirah Yusuf, 34, said although the ban was a good idea, she strongly feels that smokers must be given a place to smoke.
“I still think it is best that all eateries are divided into smoking and non-smoking areas.
“Smokers are still our customers and we believe all customers have rights,” she said.
Restoran M. Salim supervisor Husseeni Abdul, 60, shared the same sentiment as Amirah.
“We feel bad about telling our customers what to do with their cigarettes because we think they have rights too.
“The best way to go about this is to let smokers have their own area to smoke while they eat.
“This allows both non-smokers and smokers at all eateries to enjoy their meal without worries,” he said.