KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is putting on hold today’s nationwide smoking ban at all eateries pending a decision by the state Cabinet.
Two state ministers – Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Jaujan Sambakong, and Health and People’s Wellbeing Minister Datuk Stephen Wong – said the enforcement of the ban would be deferred for now.
Jaujan, who is also the state Local Government and Housing Minister, said the state Cabinet would discuss the matter before deciding on whether to impose the ban.
Sabah, like Sarawak, which is not immediately enforcing the ban, has its own local government ordinances. It is seeking to study the impact of the federal move on businesses in the state.
Jaujan said they would get views from the state Attorney General and also members of the state Cabinet before making a decision.
Sabah’s move came amid concerns raised by coffeeshop operators across the state.
Sarawak’s Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian said last week that the ban would not apply to the state unless it adopted the new ruling.
Sabah Health Department director Datuk Dr Christina Rundi said the smoking ban at open-air eateries was not a new law by itself but was in addition to all places – like air-conditioned restaurants, government buildings and airports – already gazetted as no-smoking areas.
Dr Rundi said there were many aspects to the ban and emphasis should be given to educating the public and coffeeshop operators rather than on enforcement.
Jaujan said Sabah was not against the ban but was looking at the practical aspect as the hefty fines and jail terms would impact many smokers across the state who might end up in jail if they could not settle the fines.
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