KUCHING: Smokers should comply with the ban on lighting up in eateries in Sarawak or face compounds and possible court action from January next year.
State chief environmental health officer Billy Sujang said the smoking ban, which came into effect on March 1 in Sarawak, was still in the educational enforcement period until December.
During this period, he said, those caught lighting up would be advised not to do so.
“Full enforcement will start in January next year. By that time, compounds of RM250 will be issued and we can even bring them to court.
“For the first and second offence, we can compound them but after the third offence, we will bring them to court and there will be no reduction to the compound, which they can ask for after a first offence, ” he said after the opening ceremony of the World Environmental Health Day celebration.
The smoking ban in all restaurants, coffeeshops, hawker centres and open-air eateries was announced by the Health Ministry in October last year.
Those caught smoking in prohibited areas can be fined up to RM10,000 or jailed up to two years, while eatery owners who fail to display “No smoking” signs will face a maximum fine of RM3,000.
However, smokers can light up three metres away from the establishments.
Billy said all eateries in Sarawak were displaying the “No smoking” signs in compliance with the ban.
“We have visited all the eateries and they have put up at least one correct sign, ” he said.
He also reminded smokers who wished to kick the habit that they could visit quit smoking clinics at government health clinics or go to the Jom Quit website at www.jomquit.moh.gov.my
Sarawak Assistant Minister of Local Government Dr Penguang Manggil called for strict enforcement of the smoking ban from January onwards.
“I fully support what the Health Department is doing. To me, we can have all kinds of laws but the most important thing is enforcement.
“There is no point having a law if it is not enforced strictly, ” he said.