SIBU: The no smoking ban enforced from Jan 1 in all food outlets nationwide is posing a serious environmental issue for the Sibu Municipal Council (SMC).
SMC chairman Clarence Ting voiced his concerns at the council’s annual dinner on Sunday (Jan 5), saying that the indiscriminate littering of cigarette butts is a cause for concern now.
“I support the ban, but SMC is faced with a new challenge of cigarette butt littering, and I can see that the situation has gotten from bad to worse," he said.
Ting added that they would have to address this issue urgently otherwise "my plan for a cleaner Sibu will suffer a setback this year."
With the full implementation of the ban, eateries no longer provide ashtrays for smokers. This has caused smokers who puff 3m away from the outlets to blatantly throw their cigarette butts on the road.
The butts could even be seen underneath chairs in the eateries as well as on the five-foot-way.
A random check by The Star showed this cigarette butt littering was done during the night when smokers puff away as they believe there will be no enforcement.
Council street sweepers can also be seen sweeping cigarette butts in the middle of the road now.
When asked whether the council would use CCTV to catch the culprits, Ting said it was not easy to do so as there are too many areas to monitor.
He said the anti-smoking drive is a Health Department action.
"SMC and the state Local Government and Housing Ministry have yet to decide on a course of action. We are waiting for the state government to put in place an anti-smoking by-law for council," he added.