GEORGETOWN: If you are caught puffing on your nicotine sticks in the heritage enclave or any other gazetted no-smoking places, you will still be fined, says state Health Committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin.
He said while enforcers were only conducting “educational enforcement” at eateries now and giving smokers warning for spewing out secondhand smoke for other diners, doing that in other gazetted no-smoking places would still be costly.
“Last year, we fined 648 people and collected RM48,430 in fines. Smokers who get caught can be fined at least RM250 (for first-time offenders),” he said.
But Dr Afif stressed that the no-smoking laws in Penang was “not about fines”.
Dr Afif (third left) sticking a No Smoking sign at the Pelita restaurant during a walkabout organised by the state Health Department in Chai Leng Park, Butterworth. — Photos: ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star
“We want to reduce the public tolerance of smokers and their secondhand smoke.
“It will be more meaningful if we have a society that will tell smokers to kill their cigarettes, instead of having enforcers on the street.
“I have asked smokers to stop before and I didn’t get slapped,” he said, in obvious reference to the mamak restaurant worker in Shah Alam who got slapped for telling a diner not to smoke in an eatery.
Dr Afif said if the public approached smokers properly, they might be amiable.
Meanwhile in Butterworth, Pelita Samudra Pertama which has a chain of 27 nasi kandar restaurants nationwide, has vowed to stop selling cigarettes to help raise awareness on the dangers of smoking.
The Light Hotel general manager Azhar Mohammad, whose company also falls under the Pelita group, said the group could only do so after the expiry of its contract with the cigarette companies end of the year.
“If the cigarette companies allow us to terminate the contract, we will do it immediately,” he said on Tuesday.
Earlier, Dr Afif also visited Pelita’s first nasi kandar outlet in Chai Leng Park where he proposed that the Health Ministry present Pelita restaurants with the prestigious Blue Ribbon Award for raising awareness on the health hazard of secondhand smoke and the dangers of tobacco.
The Blue Ribbon Award is to acknowledge people and organisations working to implement and support the World Health Organisation Framework Convention provision on Article 8, protection from exposure of tobacco smoke.
“Hopefully, the cigarette companies will respect Pelita’s initiative. And I hope that the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry would impose a ban on the selling of cigarettes at restaurants,” he said.
Dr Afif added that the Penang Health Department officers have so far visited 1,604 premises and 804 of them failed to place the No-Smoking warning signs in their premises.
He said a total of 1,278 warnings were issued to the operators while seven smokers were caught red-handed for smoking within three metres from the dining area and issued with warnings.