Powerless to stop smokers

A No Smoking notice on the ferry. — Photos: MUSTAFA AHMAD/The Star

IT seems the law has failed to stop smokers from lighting up on ferries or at bus and ferry terminals.

A total of 694 fines amounting to RM173,500 were issued by Penang Health Department to smokers at these public places last year but a number of them still carry on with their habit.

The Star found passengers still happily puffing away on the ferries as well as at the Raja Tun Uda and Sultan Abdul Halim terminals.

A passenger who declined to be named shared his health and environmental concern over the matter.

“Tourists and locals board the ferry for a scenic view and sea breeze, not to get smoke in their face.

“During rush hours, the ferry is crowded and we cannot walk away to escape from the foul-smelling smoke.

“Smokers not only pollute the air but due to the absence of ashtrays, they just flick the cigarette butts into the sea once they are done, ” he said.

A Rapid Ferry officer, who declined to be named, expressed his frustration that the crew members were not empowered to carry out enforcement duties on ferries.

“My colleagues have been scolded by smokers who were told to put out their cigarettes.

When the ferry is crowded during rush hours, it is hard to escape the foul smell of cigarette smoke, says a passenger when interviewed. – FilepicWhen the ferry is crowded during rush hours, it is hard to escape the foul smell of cigarette smoke, says a passenger when interviewed. – Filepic

“We can only advise. We are not authorised to enforce the no-smoking law.

“Many times, the crew members have gone to speak to smokers after receiving complaints from other passengers.

“But instead of complying with the rules, the smokers berated the crew members.

“It all boils down to the people’s attitude and civic consciousness.

“There will only be enforcement when the Health Department officers are on board, ” he said.

Under the Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004, the ferries, ferry and bus terminals, airport and heritage areas are no-smoking areas and each offender can be fined RM250.

The Health Ministry has also announced that smoking and vaping are prohibited in all eateries this year.

The offenders will be fined RM250 but the amount will be reduced to RM150 if the fine is settled in less than a month.

State Health Department director Dr Asmayani Khalib said nobody is allowed to smoke in any public vehicle or at the terminals.

“Last year, the department launched Ops Penang Sihat to catch offenders.”

It is worth nothing that all buildings and public spaces within the 259ha George Town heritage site, except homes, are gazetted as no-smoking zones.

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