Still smoking despite ban

Customers posted: A ‘No Smoking’ sign is displayed in a coffee shop in George Town, Penang. – K.T. GOH/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: Despite the smoking ban in many places since 2015, some smokers here continue to light up.

Due to lax enforcement and the general lack of awareness, many are still happily puffing away in restricted areas along the Batu Ferringhi tourism belt and George Town Unesco World Heritage Site.

Both places have been gazetted as smoke-free zones and smoking is not allowed even on the streets in the open air, but a check showed that smokers still light up.

“Smokers are smoking everywhere, even in eateries here. It doesn’t seem like a smoking ban exists at all,” said Tony Montaro, 45, who operates a cafe by the beach in Batu Ferringhi.

Fortunately for Montaro, his small open-air cafe of only six tables means customers are just steps away from the open beach.

“They smoke at the beach. Not at my tables. They are aware of the smoking ban within eateries.

“I’ve got no issues with smokers and have never found cigarette butts on the floor,” he said.

In September 2019, Penang gazetted the Batu Ferringhi tourism area as a smoke-free zone.

The smoke-free zone begins at Tanjung Bungah’s Penang Floating Mosque and ends at Bayview Beach Resort along Jalan Batu Ferringhi.

Smokers are not supposed to take a puff anywhere here though hotels, restaurants and other outlets may designate smoking rooms.

Tanjung Bungah assemblyman Zairil Khir Johari called on all smokers to be considerate of others.

“At the same time, if there is to be enforcement, then the local council should provide designated smoking areas as it would be unfair if it didn’t,” he said.

At the heritage site in George Town, many were seen smoking in public areas such as bus stops, parks and along five-foot ways, as well as within eateries such as cafes, food courts and roadside stalls.

Coffeeshop owner Ryan Tan, 30, gets his share of smokers seated at tables placed outside his establishment.

“They don’t do it inside but smoke when dining at tables outside... they will stop when I advise them not to,” he said.

Shaiful Almuddin Md Isa, who runs a Malay restaurant in Campbell Street, politely tells patrons that smoking is not allowed at his place.

Smokers will then walk out to the streets, even though smoking is not allowed on the streets in the heritage enclave.

Hameediyah Restaurant, the oldest nasi kandar restaurant in the country, encounters smokers lighting up near its washrooms.

Its director Muhammad Riyaaz Syed Ibrahim said as much as they advised customers not to smoke, it still happens regularly.

“If we catch them doing it, we politely apologise and explain that smoking is not allowed,” he said.

Northeast district health officer Datin Dr Azizah Abdul Manan said if people were caught smoking in eateries, both the smoker and premises’ owners would be compounded.

“They will both be in trouble as it is banned.

“It is the owners’ duty to tell customers that they cannot smoke.

“If we catch them and the owners say the person was warned, it is on the owners to show us proof that they did warn the customer,” she said.

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