Designated smoking areas idea good progression from current 3m rule, says National Cancer Society


PETALING JAYA: The National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM) has lauded a proposal by the Health Ministry to implement designated smoking areas near certain eateries calling it a good progression in creating more smoke-free areas in public areas.

NCSM managing director Associate Professor Dr M. Murallitharan said on Monday (Feb 19) that certain quarters have misunderstood the latest proposal of the Health Ministry by alleging that the government was going back on its earlier pledge to implement smoke-free policies and such move would be at the risk of smokers becoming nonchalant of puffing away.

He explained that there are two different zones - smoke-free premises and smoke-free areas - related to prohibitions on smoking.

Murallitharan said smoke-free premises refer to specific establishments such as hospitals, schools and other facilities in which individuals are absolutely disallowed from smoking.

ALSO READ: Suggestion for designated smoking areas not finalised yet, says Health Minister

However, he said while this also applied to restaurants and eateries, the law allowed smoking if it is done beyond a 3m radius outside of an eatery.

Murallitharan said smoke-free areas, however, refer to an entire area gazetted under the law that prohibits smoking.

He said this includes certain parks and tourist areas such as the entirety of Jonker Walk in Melaka.

Murallitharan said under the latest proposal by the government, designated smoking areas will be set up close to smoke-free premises instead of the current 3m radius rule.

ALSO READ: Govt mulls designated smoking areas for eateries in tight spaces

"The advantage of this is very clear – instead of having cigarette butts strewn all over the place and resulting in environmental pollution, there will be a specific space which can be designated for smoking and will be equipped with bins to facilitate waste disposal.

"There is some confusion among the public as both terms are being used interchangeably. The government has proposed allowing designated smoking areas not within smoke-free areas but in areas with smoke-free premises," he said.

Murallitharan said these designated smoking areas should be spartan and feature messages that encourage smokers to quit smoking and adopt a healthy lifestyle.

"Over the long run, these spaces with smoke-free premises will slowly be transformed into smoke-free areas as more and more of the public become conscious and completely stop using even these designated smoking areas.

"This way these areas with smoke-free premises will eventually become smoke-free areas and can be gazetted as such. Such a transformational approach is the way to approach the development of a sustainable smoke-free generation of Malaysians," he said in a statement.

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