MALACCA: The state has become the first in the country to gazette five areas including the entire districts of Alor Gajah and Jasin as no-smoking zones.
Offenders caught puffing in these districts from June 15 onwards could be slapped with a maximum compound of RM5,000.
The five areas designated as free from cigarettes are the 4.2sq km World Heritage City, Taman Melaka Raya, the Malacca International Trade Centre in Ayer Keroh as well as the Alor Gajah and Jasin town centres.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai declared these areas as strictly no-smoking zones and said enforcement would be based on the provisions of the Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004.
“These five areas totalling about 338ha will be free from cigarette smoke, making Malacca the maiden state to have a gazetted no-smoking zone.
“Those caught will be hit with a compound of RM300 although the maximum penalty is RM5,000,” Liow told reporters at the World Tobacco Free Day celebrations in Bandar Hilir here yesterday.
He said enforcement efforts would be conducted by state Health Department officials complemented by city and local councils' enforcement units.
Liow said his ministry had previously gazetted 21 sites, among others, cinemas, shopping complexes, hospitals, air-conditioned and enclosed restaurants, recreational parks and sports complexes as no-smoking zones, but this is the first time such a prohibition covers a vast public area like the whole of the Jasin town centre, for example,
Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said the state government was serious about declaring more tourist destinations in the state smoke-free zones.
He said state agencies would be asked to display the Malacca A Smoke Free Zone message on its official websites starting immediately.
Alor Gajah MP Tan Sri Dr Fong Chan Onn welcomed the move to gazette the town centre as a no-smoking zone but wanted the ministry to carry out an extensive awareness campaign prior to issuing compounds.
“Any enforcement exercise should not catch local residents off-guard. Awareness needs to be created first,” he said.
A check with traders at Jonker Street, which is part of the World Heritage City, elicited a mixed response.
Restaurant owner Lee Teck Kim, 52, said the state government should provide an area for smokers.
“We can't stop foreigners from smoking in our premises,” he said.
Another trader, who wanted to be known only as Uncle Yong, said he supported the move as the street is a major tourist attraction.