PUTRAJAYA: There’s no letting up in discussions about the no-smoking ruling at eateries, with Sabah finally opting to accept the ban and the Health Ministry seemingly being receptive to having dedicated sections for smokers.
Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said they had been getting feedback about the ban, which started on Jan 1, as well as proposals by eateries to designate a section for patrons who need a puff.
“We are looking into this. We want to be firm (on this policy) but at the same time, we want to be business friendly. Then again, we must not be seen as backtracking on the decision not to allow people to smoke at eateries.
“If operators can observe the basic requirement on the no-smoking policy, we may consider this suggestion and see how innovative they can be in handling this situation,” he told reporters yesterday.
He shot down calls to allow smokers to light up at eateries after certain hours.
“We have thought this through but unfortunately, this cannot be allowed,” he said.
Dr Dzulkefly said restaurants must observe the “3m away” rule in which smoking zones could be designated away from the dining area.
Enforcement officers, he said, would make their rounds to ensure this was adhered to.
“But it is all the better if they (restaurants) don’t have such areas,” he said.
Beginning this year, smoking in all restaurants, coffee shops and hawker centres has been banned, even in open-air eateries.
In KOTA KINABALU, Sabah is set to implement the no-smoking ban in open air eateries on Feb 1 after sitting out of the nationwide ban.
State Health and Urban Wellbeing Minister Datuk Stephen Wong said the state Cabinet, after taking into consideration various aspects of the federal ban, had decided to adopt it for the state.
Coffeeshop operators would have time to implement the policy that would be fully enforced from July 1, he said.
He said smokers could be fined up to RM10,000 or jailed up to two years for smoking in areas gazetted as no-smoking zones.
Coffeeshop operators who allow their customers to light up could also face a fine of up to RM3,000.
Wong said that when the federal government gazetted the no-smoking ban in open air premises late last year, the Sabah government was not informed about it in black and white.
“This caused a bit of confusion for us,” he said.
As for Sarawak, its state Cabinet will decide on Jan 24 on the mechanism to enforce the smoking ban at all eateries there.