Smokers in Sarawak carry on as usual

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 02 Jan 2019

Nothing wrong: A customer vaping at a coffee shop in Satok, Kuching, early yesterday morning.

KUCHING: A number of smokers carried on with their habit at eateries here after Sarawak deferred the smoking ban despite an earlier Health Ministry statement that the state was supportive of it.

A check at a popular food court in the Petra Jaya area found several customers smoking while seated at the tables.

Patrons were also seen puffing away at a non-air conditioned restaurant in Jalan Simpang Tiga while a customer was spotted vaping at a coffee shop in Satok.

At all three eateries, it appeared that the staff did not advise the customers not to light up.

The federal government’s smoking ban came into force at all eateries yesterday.

However, Sarawak has put off implementing the ban until it adopts the policy under its own Local Government Ordinance.

State Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian was reported as saying that the state Health Department would hold a meeting with stakeholders on Jan 9 to discuss the ban.

Bandar Kuching MP Kelvin Yii took Dr Sim to task for putting off the ban, saying that doing so based on the state’s autonomy was disappointing.

Yii urged the state government not to delay adopting policies that were good for the people.

“Our autonomy is meant to safeguard our interests and not to be used as a show of power to the detriment of the people of Sarawak,” he said.

In Kota Kinabalu, many eateries around the city have put up no-smoking signs. The operators, comprising Chinese coffee shops and mamak restaurants, said they preferred to be on the safe side.

“We know the ban takes effect on Jan 1, but then in Sabah, we have one person saying ‘not yet’ and another saying ‘yes’. So what can we do?

“Better to just put up the sign,” said a chicken shop operator in Lintas who only wanted to be known as Mrs Tan.

An operator of a mamak eatery nearby said they felt more comfortable having the sign up because that was the law.

Recently, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Jaujan Sambakong and state Health and Wellbeing Minister Datuk Stephen Wong said the ban had yet to be enforced in Sabah due to state legislation.

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