GEORGE TOWN: Nothing beats the joy of spending time with friends at a nasi kandar restaurant while sipping cups of teh tarik and smoking cigarettes.
Such moments no longer exist following the smoking ban.
A random check by The Star found that there were still smokers in five out of the 20 eateries here puffing away within a 3m radius of the eateries.
Some of them, upon realising they were being photographed, quickly hid the cigarettes and put them out.
A group of friends squatted by the roadside to smoke after lunch at a restaurant in Pitt Lane.
“Our hangouts are always for meals and smoking is a way for us to chill.
“Now, we have to eat first before finding somewhere else to smoke,” said Hariz Razali, 21.
Nearby in Chulia Street, businessman Abdul Rashid Dahlan, 50, decided to smoke in his car with the air-conditioner running as he waited for his family who had lunch nearby.
“What to do, I cannot smoke where they are eating. With the hot weather and limited space allowed for smoking, I guess it’s safer I smoke in my own car,” he said.
Non-smokers welcomed the ban as they could breathe “cleaner” air at eating places now.
Nursing student Nur Azmina Che Idris, 23, who is on holiday with her family from Kelantan, said she no longer had any concern of dining at places without clean air.
“We don’t have to worry about smokers sitting next to us and puffing happily within the premises,” she said.
On social media, many smokers showed the humorous side of the ban.
Photos had gone viral of a pair of smokers using a measuring tape to plot a distance of exactly 3m from their open-air mamak shop table.
Another smoker showed how to hide his lit cigarette inside a paper cup and puff through the cigarette butt by poking it out of the straw hole of the cup lid.
In Ipoh, a check at several coffee shops, restaurants and a food court showed that not a single cigarette was lit up. There was, however, a handful of people smoking just right outside the eateries.
At a coffee shop in Bercham, one man was seen smoking while seated at a table at the back alley of the premises.
At another popular restaurant in Canning Garden, customers were seen puffing away across the road from the establishment.
A patron at the coffee shop in Bercham welcomed the breath of fresh air, no longer being disturbed by cigarette smoke.
The 35-year-old mother of one, who declined to be named, said she used to shift tables whenever someone smoked nearby.
A smoker, who only wanted to be known as Soon, 60, said smokers like him had no choice but to grudgingly adhere to the new ruling.
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