New Year gloom for smokers


A no-smoking warning sign on a wall of an eatery. — Photos: CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

A no-smoking warning sign on a wall of an eatery. — Photos: CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

THE New Year is bringing a bit of dismay for smokers as the smoking ban at all eateries kicks off in the country today.

Malaysia had in 2005 signed an agreement with the World Health Organisation to commit to being a smoke-free country by 2045 and the ban is a way to reduce the number of smokers and also to protect non-smokers.

Taxi driver Mohd Kamaruddin Syed Mohd, 65, said cigarettes should only be sold in places where smoking is allowed.

He said the government should also consider banning the sale of cigarettes since they are hazardous to health.

“Smokers will stop when the selling stops. Eateries should stop selling cigarettes if customers cannot smoke there,” he said when met at Komtar on Sunday.

A smoker for the past 45 years, Mohd Kamaruddin said hewanted to quit smoking, adding that his doctor had advised himto cut down gradually.

“I smoke up to three packets a day and I believe I can concentrate better at work.

“The urge to take a puff kicks in after a while.

“I want to stop smoking but it’s a slow and painstaking process. Please give me time,” he said.

Teoh putting up a no-smoking sign at his coffee shop. He says his customers have expressed displeasure over the ban.
Teoh putting up a no-smoking sign at his coffee shop. He says his customers have expressed displeasure over the ban.

Another smoker, who wished to be known only as Bah, 20, said while non-smokers deserve clean air, smokers too should be given space of their own.

“It’s fine if we can’t smoke in eateries anymore.

“But can we have designated areas with dustbins to dispose off the cigarette butts? Then we can have a win-win situation,” he said.

Coffee shop owner Teoh Boon Min, 71, who was spotted putting up a ‘No Smoking’ sign at his shop, said his customers have shown displeasure over thesmoking ban.

“We are still selling cigarettes here but customers are upset that they will no longer get to take a puff here.

“Selling cigarettes has been part of our business for decades,” he said.

Mohd Kamaruddin showing the health warning on a cigarette packet. He is eager to quit smoking but says it’s a slow process.
Mohd Kamaruddin showing the health warning on a cigarette packet. He is eager to quit smoking but says it’s a slow process.

Another restaurant owner, who wished to be known only as Tan, 65, said his customers are allowed to smoke if they sit outside the restaurant.

“But with the smoking ban, I am worried that my business will drop,” he said.

Visits to several coffee shops and food courts in town found that all of them had put up warning signs to prohibit smoking in their premises.

It was earlier reported that those caught smoking in prohibited areas will be fined up to RM10,000 while eateries found to have allowed customers to light up will be fined up to RM2,500.

Operators who fail to put up no-smoking signs face a fine not exceeding RM3,000 or jail timeof up to six months.

The George Town heritage enclave is also gazetted as a smoke-free area under the Smoke Free Penang (Penbar) initiative.

This includes banning smoking in all buildings and public areas within the George Town World Heritage Site.

Northern Region , smoking ban