Kuantan eatery owners pledge to respect smoking ban


KUANTAN: Coffeeshop and restaurant proprietors here will abide by the smoking ban despite their earlier reluctance to do so.

Kuantan Cafe, Hotel and Restaurant Association chairman Sin Thin Sang said they had no choice but to respect the ruling after failing to get a favourable response from the Health Ministry to reconsider.

“If we see customers lighting up, we will tell them to smoke far away outside.

“All of our members have been notified and they will adhere to the ruling. We do not want to get into trouble with the health inspectors,” he said when contacted yesterday.

Earlier this month, Sin described the ban as too extreme and would burden business owners with unfair penalties and inconvenience.

The move was unfair to eatery operators as it pushed the responsibility on them to stop customers from smoking, he said.

He proposed having smoking areas within business premises.

The association represents more than 200 eatery owners here.

Meanwhile, the Pahang Health Department will deploy 350 officers across the state to enforce the ban from today.

Its director Datuk Indera Dr Sha’ari Ngadiman said the operation would involve educating the public during the six-month grace period.

“I wouldn’t say we are just going to warn the offenders as we are leaning more towards educating the public on this ruling,” he said.

“We are not going to monitor every eatery at once. We have our own strategy and approach in enforcing the ban,” Dr Sha’ari said when asked if there were enough personnel to cover the entire state.

In Ipoh, Perak Health, Environ­ment and Human Resources Committee chairman A. Sivanesan asked non-smokers to become the eyes and ears of the authorities and report errant smokers puffing at eateries.

He admitted that it would be impossible for enforcement officers to be at every coffeeshop or restaurant in the state, and hoped the public could play its role as responsible citizens.

“The move may be unpopular for some but the majority of people have given their thumbs-up to it,” he said.

He said non-smokers should also voice out their unhappiness with smokers when they were dining in restaurants.

“They should also make the message clear to the restaurant owners that they will no longer patronise the place if smokers continue to puff there,” he said.

Perak Coffee Shop Keepers Association committee member Wong Yeng Chin said almost all of its 200 members had put up the no-smoking signs at their premises.

“It can be hard for some of us to ask customers to go out of the shop to smoke; they might not like it.

“We hope customers understand what needs to be done if they wish to smoke,” he said, adding that awareness and education campaigns were still needed.

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