MANY restaurant owners are giving the thumbs up to the Health Ministry’s intention to gazette all open-air eateries as no-smoking areas from December.
They felt the move was timely, because a majority of their customers were uncomfortable when smokers start lighting up near them.
M.Salim Restaurant manager Batcha Mohamad said the move was a good one.
He said there were many children, babies and senior citizens usually enjoying their meals, and it was common to see smokers puffing away at the next table.
“Smoke from a vape especially is really bad and affects other people in the restaurant.
“I have seen customers who wanted to eat at my restaurant walk away the moment they see people smoking,” he said.
Recently, Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye announced the ministry’s intention to gazette open-air restaurants as no-smoking zones under the Control of Tobacco Product (Amendment) Regulations 2017 at Dewan Negara.
The gazettement would not only encourage smokers to kick the habit, but also protect non-smokers from second-hand smoke.
The current Control of Tobacco Product (Amendment) Regulations 2017 prohibits smoking in 21 areas, including hospitals, public toilets, government premises as well as air-conditioned shops and offices.
Those caught smoking at prohibited areas can be fined RM10,000 or jailed for not more than two years.
Yong Suan coffeeshop owner, who only wished to be known as Mei Dyi, said if such areas were gazetted as non-smoking areas, it would definitely be a good move.
She said people who do not smoke were inhaling the secondary tobacco smoke from smokers around them.
“I hope the rule will apply to those who vape as well because it is not healthy at all for people to inhale the smoke.
“If the rule is implemented then I will definitely put up a no-smoking sign inside the restaurant,” she added.
Sin Nanyang coffeeshop owner Chin Min That, 72, supported the proposal.
He said those who wished to smoke could do it elsewhere without making others uncomfortable.
“Non-smokers often cannot take the smoke from cigarettes or vape, and many start to cough, me included.
“I always feel that smokers should just step out of a restaurant and smoke and they should not do it when there are people around,” he added.
Cathay Mee Stall worker Hussein Mohd Yusouf, 59, who operates inside a coffeeshop, said he backed the proposal whole-heartedly.
Restaurants and eateries, he said, were patronised by the young and old.
“It is not right for people to smoke in front of the young and elderly because secondary smoke can harm all of us.
“I do not think business will be affected if such a ruling takes effect, because whether you are a smoker or not, you have to eat,” he added.
Beauty Baru coffeeshop owner Poh Oon Cheong, 59, said smokers were generally a selfish lot.
He said they never think of others around them and would continue smoking as though there was no one around.
“They must be considerate when smoking and look around to see who is seated near them.
“Sometimes there are babies and these smokers are happily puffing away as if it does not make any difference,” he added.
Poh said if the ruling was implemented, it would definitely be a good move as it would teach smokers how to behave.
He felt that smokers could always step out of a place to smoke where there are no people around.
“Why must they sit inside a restaurant and smoke when there are so many non-smokers seated around them?” he asked.
Another stall operator who only wished to be known as C.Y. Lim, 49, said the move is appropriate.
“I sometimes see families with babies and young children feeling really uncomfortable because there are smokers seated next to them.
“Despite seeing children around them, these smokers continue to smoke as if they were not there.
“It is common sense that when there are children and babies around, smokers must be considerate enough not to light their cigarettes,” he added.