SERDANG: The smoking ban at open-air eateries will be strictly enforced from Jan 1 next year and compounds will be issued to those flouting the law, says Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.
He added that despite the ban in effect from Jan 1 this year, some "recalcitrants" are continuing to smoke at these places.
"We will not compromise and will enforce the law (on Jan 1)," he said.
The gazetting of food eateries as no smoking zones comes under Regulation 11 of the Control of Tobacco Products (PPKHT) Act 2004.
Under the smoking ban, smokers can only light up three metres away from an eatery.
Those who violate the smoking ban can be compounded up to RM250.
Offenders who fail to settle the compound can be hauled to court and slapped with a RM10,000 fine or two years' jail.
"Beyond the law, we want people to understand why we are imposing the smoking ban. It is for the welfare and health of the people," he said at a press conference in conjunction with World Tobacco Free Day 2019 on Thursday (June 27).
He said the Health Ministry would continue its educational enforcement on the smoking ban in open-air eateries until end of the year before the punishments are imposed.
Dr Dzulkefly was asked the measures the ministry had taken against those who continued to smoke at open-air eateries despite warning notices issued.
In Malaysia, the National Health Morbidity Survey 2015 estimated that five million Malaysians aged 15 and above were smokers while 20,000 die every year as a result of health complications from smoking exposure.
"More worrying is that this habit has spread to the younger generation with 68.4% smoke before they turn 14," said Dr Dzulkefly.
He also said that the ministry has set up a task force headed by his deputy Dr Lee Boon Chye to address vaping and e-cigarette issues.