PETALING JAYA: While some restaurants and food outlets in the Klang Valley are abiding by the smoking ban, that did not stop “undercover patrons” from lighting up.
In most cases, they were also not told off by restaurant staff.
When The Star reporters made a show of taking out cigarettes at the six food outlets they surveyed around Petaling Jaya, only workers at two places reminded them of the ban.
Another three included in the survey for the Klang Valley were visited by the Health Minister.
Although a check at a mamak shop in Taman Tun Dr Ismail showed that there were no-smoking signs put up at various areas, none of the patrons or the restaurant workers stopped them from lighting up.
One of the waiters later went up to the team and reminded them of the ban.
A check at a kopitiam, also in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, found no signs.
At a mamak shop in Phileo Damansara, the workers reminded patrons of the ban even before they had a chance to order food.
However, a fast food outlet nearby neither warned the reporters nor put up a sign.
At another restaurant in SS2, a Health Ministry van was seen in front of the premises, with a worker using a loudhailer to remind everyone of the smoking ban and the penalty for flouting the regulations.
The restaurant had visible signs but no one stopped or told off the reporters.
A check at a restaurant in Kelana Jaya revealed that it was equipped with signs but again, the reporters were not stopped from smoking or advised not to do so.
In Melaka, restaurant operators claimed that they were helpless as many customers continued to smoke inside the eateries.
One mamak restaurant owner in Malim, who declined to be named, asked whether he needed to physically restrain customers if they were still adamant on smoking despite a reminder from staff.
“We have placed the no-smoking posters around our premises but customers still continue to puff away. The only thing we could do is to knock their skulls but it would be the end of our business,” he said.
Another restaurant owner Amran Alwi, 43, from Klebang echoed the same sentiment.
“We have more patrons who are smokers and they wouldn’t return if I tell them to ‘get lost’ each time they light up a cigarette.
“Many are unhappy with the new ruling. The government should only bar people from smoking within the restaurants and not at the open-air seating,” he said.
Stall owner Kamarul Hiysham, 49, from Klebang, said while he supported the Health Ministry’s move, he felt that the awareness and implementation were not properly done.
“Our business depends on smokers and the ministry should give them a space,” he said.
A stall operator from Tanjung Kling hoped that a special zone would be set aside for smokers in premises like food courts.
“We are not demanding for air-conditioned rooms but just a zone for smokers to sit and chat in a typical coffeehouse ambience,” he said.
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