GEORGE TOWN: Penang will be a smoke-free state in five years if everything goes according to plan.
State Health Committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin said he proposed for smoking to be banned in all public areas.
“Penang aims to be a smoke-free state within the next five years with the initiative that was first carried out under the Cigarette Smoke-Free Penang (Penbar) programme.
“It will be the same concept as Penbar, which focuses on protecting the people of Penang from the dangers of cigarette smoke, but on a much larger scale.
“We will spread awareness and step up enforcement as it is time we reduced tolerance towards public smoking,” he said.
Dr Afif said the goal was to make Penbar a statewide initiative.
On past objections from shop owners, restaurants and hotels on the smoking ban, Dr Afif said it had been minimal.
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said he hoped Penbar could be pushed further than the current gazetted areas.
“Several areas such as the George Town World Heritage site and Penang Hill have been gazetted as smoke-free.
“Enough publicity has been given on this issue. The Health Ministry has done so much over the past 20 to 30 years to create awareness about the adverse effects of smoking,” Chow said.
Since July 4, 2015, all buildings and public spaces within the 259ha heritage site, except residential premises, were gazetted as no-smoking zones and enforcement began on Jan 1, 2016.
Smokers could be fined a maximum of RM10,000 or jailed up to two years, upon conviction.
Yellow semi-circle spots marked with a smoking sign were later introduced for those craving a puff.
About 30 such spots have been set up, away from public gathering areas.