Call to ban smoking at eateries


  • Community
  • Thursday, 27 Jul 2017

Air-conditioned restaurants are already displaying ‘no smoking’ signs. – filepic

RESTAURANT and coffeeshop operators are echoing calls by non-smokers to ban smoking at all eateries, regardless of whether they are air-conditioned or not.

Coffeeshop owner Lai Sau Yong, 54, said it would be good if the government extended the smoking ban to all eateries.

“I personally dislike being around people who smoke. I have to inhale their second-hand smoke.

“Sometimes, when some of my customers smoke within the shop I tell them to do so either outside or in the toilet.

“But, I dare not say much if it is a regular customer, in case they get offended,” she said.

According to Sau Yong, the number of smokers had significantly decreased over the years.

“I would say there has been a 30% drop in the number of customers who smoke ever since the prices of cigarettes went up, which I am glad for.

“To discourage people from smoking at my shop, I stopped selling cigarettes some 10 years ago,” she added.

A bak kut teh restaurant owner who only wished to be known as Goh said although banning smoking at all eateries would be good, such a move would do little to discourage smoking.

“The best is to ban smoking completely. Make it illegal to sell or buy cigarettes,” he said.

For now, only public parks, open-air public transport stops, campsites, game courts, playgrounds, pedestrian pathways and playing fields besides air-conditioned food outlets are considered non-smoking areas under The Control of Tobacco Product (Amendment) Regulations 2017.

Asked if business would be affected should smoking be banned at non air-conditioned eateries, Goh rubbished such claims.

“People’s decision of where to eat is not based on whether they can smoke or not.

“A smoking ban would not affect our business, only the government’s coffers,” said the 67-year-old man.

Echoing Goh’s sentiments, another restaurant owner who only wanted to be known as Kilijan said people still ate at air-conditioned places such as KFC even though they were not allowed to smoke there.

“Business will be as usual. I think it will be a good move although ban or no ban, I am sure that smokers like my husband will still smoke.

“In fact, the government should consider the smoking ban for five-foot ways, railway stations and bus stations – at all public places,” she said.

Other countries including India had imposed such a ban, she added.

“Smokers have no consideration for others and we are the ones who have to suffer because of their actions.

Just as smoking is banned at public parks, restaurant and coffeeshop operators want the rule to be applied at all eateries. – filepic
Just as smoking is banned at public parks, restaurant and coffeeshop operators want the rule to be applied at all eateries. – filepic

“If they really want to smoke, let them smoke in their own homes,” she said.

Kilijan, 53, too, wanted a ban on the sale of cigarettes.

“The government can increase the price of cigarettes all it wants, that would not deter smokers.

“They will just go for the cheaper cigarettes and continue smoking.

“I am fed up of getting my husband to quit. For years my children and I have tried, but nothing works,” she said.

Restaurant owner S. Sridhar, 52, said a smoking ban at all eateries was necessary to protect non-smokers.

“When I quit smoking 15 years ago, I developed this pain in my body that lasted for a long time. I think it was because of the release of toxins accumulated from smoking.

“Smoking is bad. I know the pain and the effects are worse on smokers,” he said.

Sridhar added that smokers were aware of the ill effects of second-hand smoke but could not care less if it affected others.

“I am sure most of them do not smoke at home for fear of harming their family members so why not care about others just like they care about their loved ones?” he asked.

Coffeeshop owner Joanne Lai, 51, however, said there was no need for a smoking ban at non air-conditioned eateries.

“Not all smokers are inconsiderate.

“Most of my customers go out to the five-foot way to smoke if they see young children around while some would ask those seated at the next table if it is alright for them to smoke,” she said.

She did not mind smokers, Joanne said, because she had family members who smoke.

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