MALAYSIA enforced a no-smoking ruling at all eateries and restaurants nationwide starting Jan 1, 2019.
The prohibition came under the Control of Tobacco Products Regulation 2004, which was amended in December 2018 to expand the smoking ban to cover non air-conditioned and outdoor eateries such as open-air hawker centres and street stalls. Previously, only air-conditioned restaurants were smoke-free.
Under the new ruling, facilities for smokers such as smoking rooms and ashtrays are prohibited. Besides tobacco products, vape and shisha with nicotine are also included in the ban.
Smokers, however, are permitted to light up 3m away from the establishments.
Eatery operators are required to display prominently at least a 40cm x 50cm “no-smoking” poster at their premises.
Those caught smoking in prohibited areas will be fined up to RM10,000 or face two years’ jail while eateries found to have allowed customers to light up will be slapped with a maximum fine of RM2,500.
However, the authorities decided not to issue fines for the first six months and to focus more on educating the public on the health policy.
According to the Health Ministry, Malaysia is targeting 15% smo king prevalence by 2025 and less than 5% by 2045. In 2019, the smoking prevalence was at 23%.
The ruling is not only to encourage smokers to kick the habit, but also to protect non-smokers from the effects of secondhand smoke.
Prohibitions to smoking is nothing new to Malaysia which, as party to the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, is committed to protecting everyone against exposure to tobacco smoke in public areas.
A smoking ban was first implemented in 1982 when all government premises in the country were made smoke-free.
In 1993, smoking was banned in air-conditioned restaurants nationwide, with 50% of the space allowed for smo king with certain conditions.
In 1997, the Control of Tobacco Products Regulation 1993 was amended with 50% space for smoking abolished and all air-conditioned restaurants made totally smoke-free.
The Food Safety and Hygiene Regulation 2009 under the Food Act prohibited all food handlers such as cooks and waiters from smoking while working to prevent food contamination.