THE Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang says Malaysia should allow shisha cafes to continue to operate in a “close” environment or at designated areas.
“It should not be a total ban.
“It is just like dedicated smoking zones/cubicles at airports around the world. Non-smokers will not get into these areas, ’’ Tan said.
“Just like cigar bars, the same can be applicable to shisha.
“As we are trying to draw tourists from the Middle East, we must also not overlook their favourite pastime or habit, ” he said, adding that as long as it was done in a controlled manner, the authorities should not ban it.
“The Federal Territory Health Department and DBKL should take a more cautious approach and allow some flexibility, ’’ he said.
Meanwhile, any move to provide designated smoking areas in eateries in Kuala Lumpur would only be made after getting feedback from stakeholders, said Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Nor Hisham Ahmad Dahlan.
He said while Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) was ever ready to assist in enforcement operations, he felt that the matter of setting up a designated space for smokers was something that required consultation from all.
“We don’t want to be seen as indecisive or taking a step back with such a policy, but this requires putting everyone in the same room and trashing things out, ’’ he pointed out.
Nor Hisham was referring to a recent announcement by Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin that designated smoking areas could now be built outside eateries and in public areas.
Zuraida had said eateries and restaurant operators could provide designated smoking areas that were at least three metres away from the nearest table.
She added that RM1mil had been allocated by her ministry to 155 local councils nationwide to set up designated smoking spots in public areas like food courts and parks.
Zuraida’s statement received much criticism, especially from the medical fraternity.