THE Perak Health Department has issued compound notices worth about RM63,000 to smokers found puffing away at gazetted no-smoking areas this year.
Perak Health Committee chairman Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon said some 517 compound notices were issued between January and April, with 513 of them paid.
“We conducted 96 operations at some 880 premises over the four months.
“Among the premises checked were hospitals, airport, entertainment outlets, public transports, government buildings, shopping complexes, cybercafes, children’s playgrounds, rest and relaxation outlets,” he said.
“Some 194 cases were brought to the court and 25 people fined. The total fine collected was RM9,750,” he added.
The Control of Tobacco Product (Amendment) Regulations 2017 came into force in February, making public parks and open spaces off-limit to smokers.
Other gazetted no-smoking zones includes shopping complexes, air-conditioned premises, government premises, hospitals and petrol stations. The ruling came into enforcement in Perak starting June 1.
Under the regulation, those found smoking at the gazetted areas could face a RM5,000 fine.
If brought to court, those found guilty can be fined RM10,000 or jailed two years.
The ban was in line with Malaysia’s aim to be a smoke-free nation by 2045.
Meanwhile, Ipoh City Watch (ICW) president Prof Dr Richard Ng lauded the state government’s stance to enforce the ban.
“We welcome the move as over 20,000 Malaysians died from tobacco-related diseases.
“According to Tobacco Atlas, there are 4.2 million adults and 126,000 children smokers in Malaysia today,” he told StarMetro.
“The government must demonstrate a strong political will to ensure that the ban is enforced,” he said.
“They must be seen putting people’s health first rather than the industry or businesses,” he added.
Ng, however, said it was still early to see whether the ban could be effectively implemented.
“It will be interesting to see how the culprits can be caught and how the state plans to educate those who were caught,” he said.
Ng said while the ban was for the benefit of the general public, he understood that smokers would not be able to rid the habit immediately and thus, the need to have designated areas for them to puff away.
“Having both a smoking and a no-smoking zone within the same premises or location is not a good solution as it does not really promote awareness to the people on the danger of smoking.
“Specific enclosed areas such as the ones found in most airports for smokers to puff away should also be provided,” he said.
“We should not be thinking that it is alright to smoke in open spaces such as public parks as smokers will discard cigarette butts which end up as toxic waste,” he added.
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