GEORGE TOWN: Those caught smoking in the George Town World Heritage Site may have to do community service.
State exco member Phee Boon Poh said there were plans to make them wear “Thank you for not smoking” vests or jackets and patrol the streets as part of an awareness campaign.
“We plan to set the value of their time at RM50 per hour. So, if they are fined RM300 (first offence), they can chip in to reduce the fine but they still must pay at least RM50,” he added.
The ban at the heritage site is part of a bigger anti-smoking initiative in Penang.
The entire northeast district from Batu Ferringhi to Gelugor on the island will follow suit.
Smoking will also be banned in Penang Hill and Pulau Jerejak after the state Health Department gets the endorsement of the state exco and Health Ministry.
Phee, who is state Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman, said he expected the ban to be in place by this year.
Smoking has been banned in the 260ha heritage site since July last year. Enforcement began on Jan 1.
“It would only be fair to all premises and businesses if the ban is extended throughout the island’s metropolitan area,” Phee said.
The ban, he added, covered all public areas and commercial premises, and smokers would only be able to light up in their homes.
At the heritage site, smokers caught by the eight enforcement teams on duty will receive a warning. “But, those who respond arrogantly will be fined RM300.
“For repeat offenders, the subsequent fine will be increased to RM500, RM1,000, RM2,000 and RM4,000. On the fifth offence, we will take you to court,” Phee said.
But there seems to be no stopping smokers.
Scores of people were seen smoking on the streets and in coffee shops during a three-hour walk around the core heritage zone yesterday.
No one used the designated “smoking circles” marked with a signboard and yellow circle found at Lorong Stewart, Gat Lebuh Acheh, Lorong Seck Chuan, Lebuh Duke and Kampung Kolam near Lebuh Carnarvon.
Two smokers lounging in the five-foot way at the corner of Lebuh Bishop and Lebuh Penang said they were not aware about the ban.
“We’re just smoking by the roadside and our smoke is not affecting anyone. So, why can’t we do it?” one of the smokers asked.
A co-owner of Sri Weld Food Court in Lebuh Pantai said he was disappointed with the enforcement.
“I seldom see the enforcement teams,” said Ooi Yew Hooi but he admitted that having a lot of no-smoking stickers helped.
Ooi’s 80-table food court has 33 no-smoking stickers.
During a visit at lunch time yesterday, only three out of about 300 diners in his food court were smoking.
In the 80-year-old City Rio Cafe at the corner of Lebuh Bishop and Lebuh King, proprietor Teoh Sim Mee, 69, said he was pleased with the ban.
“When I see customers smoking, I politely tell them they can be fined. But I won’t stop them if they insist.”
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