Counsel young smokers

Khuzzan (front row, centre) with 36 health enforcement officers from the Health Department who conducted a spot check on eateries in Bandar Baru Uda. – JOHN BARRY/The Star

JOHOR BARU: A 12-year-old boy is among those issued a compound by the state Health Department for smoking at an eatery in Johor.

State health, culture and heritage committee chairman Mohd Khuzzan Abu Bakar said some RM61,500 in compounds have been issued to individuals since New Year’s Day.

“As of Tuesday, 246 compounds were issued to individuals who were caught smoking at eateries throughout the state.

“Some 30 of the compounds were handed out to those below the legal smoking age of 21, with the youngest being a 12-year-old boy, ” he told media members during a spot check on eateries in the Bandar Baru Uda area.

The spot check involved several dozen health enforcement officers from the Health Ministry who issued leaflets and provided awareness on the enforcement of the ban on smoking in eateries which came into effect on Jan 1.

In light of the number of compounds issued to underage smokers, Khuzzan urged parents to monitor their children and educate them on the hazards of smoking.

“Parents need to play their part in ensuring their children do not pick up the habit at an early age.

“If they require help, they should bring their children to any health clinic for counselling with professionals, ” he said.

Khuzzan added that another RM17,000 in compounds were issued to owners of the establishments where people were caught smoking.

“About 69 ‘notice of offence’ were given to shop owners who failed to enforce the smoking ban.

“A majority of them, 59 to be exact, were given compounds due to failure to display proper ‘no smoking’ signage in their premises, ” he said.

Those caught smoking under the Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004 face a fine of RM250. Owners of eateries caught committing offences also face the same amount of fine.

Khuzzan said first-time offenders who settle their compounds within one month of receiving the notice will receive a RM100 discount.

However, those caught committing the offence more than twice will have their compound increased to RM350.

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah had, in a statement, said the number of smokers caught flouting the law was still high – despite a one-year grace period – during the first 24 hours of nationwide enforcement operations.

A total of 605 compound notices totalling RM144,450 were issued on the first day, including 34 notices to “young” smokers, after 6,119 food premises were inspected, he said.

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