Uncertainty over smoking ban


Signs of the time: Operators are still confused as to whether signs should be a sticker or made of plastic.

Signs of the time: Operators are still confused as to whether signs should be a sticker or made of plastic.

PETALING JAYA: It is over a month since the Health Ministry’s no-smoking ban kicked off on Jan 1, but there is still uncertainty over some of the nitty-gritty involved. Malaysia Singapore Coffeeshop Proprietors’ General Association president Datuk Ho Su Mong said many of his members were confused about the signs for display, saying there was no clear information available.

“There is no precise explanation given to us on the types of signs we must use. Some members complained that local Health Depart­ment officers were giving different directives or interpretation,” he said when contacted yesterday.

Ho said some of the officers insisted that restaurant operators display the signs in a sticker format, while others wanted it to be in plastic form.

“We want a clearer direction. This is sort of an education period for everyone, so there should be proper guidelines,” he said, adding that some members also complained that business had dropped 50% to 60% due to the smoking ban.

Ho also urged the Health Ministry to address the issue of creating a designated area for smokers, adding that there was also confusion about the 3m radius, within which smoking was prohibited.

He also contested the remarks by Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye’s that eateries or local authorities should provide facilities for the disposal of cigarette butts. “It is away from our premises and not under our purview.

“It is the local government’s responsibility to provide proper disposal areas. “The Health, and Housing and Local Government, ministries should conduct proper planning,” said Ho.

Malaysian Indian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma) secretary-general Habebur Rahman Shahul Hameed said while some smokers were more accepting of the law, they were still confused about the 3m radius.

He said it would be better for the government to come up with a designated area for smokers.

“We have not objected to this law but when you suddenly implement such a thing, people will be unsure initially,” he said.

Habebur also said Presma members reported a drop in business by about 25% and 30% in January, however, he felt the cigarette ban was not the main reason.

“It could also be due to the consumers’ lower spending power,” he said.

Habebur said although Presma did not mind raids by authorities on restaurants with suspect halal status, he said this resulted in a bad reputation for Indian Muslim restaurants.

“That could also be a reason why there is a drop in our business. With the Chinese New Year holidays, we are hoping that business will pick up this month,” he added.