As we welcome in the new year with fireworks that light up the KL skyline, the smoking ban in public eateries begins. Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Dzulkefly Ahmad announced that the government will not compromise on the ban despite heavy backlash from many eateries as he cites the public interest to be the main cause of concern. This law aims to ensure Malaysia to be a tobacco free nation by 2045.
The ban also covers shisha and vapes that contain nicotine.
All air conditioned and open-air eateries will be covered under the ban that only allows smoking at least three metres away from the eateries. Eateries that fail to comply with the law will see a fine of up to RM2,500 and those caught lighting cigarettes in prohibited areas can be fined up to RM10,000.
The Health Minister however did go on to say that the first six months of the law enforcement marks a grace period where no fines will be issued but instead will just note repeat offenders so that’s some good news for those that enjoy their nasi goreng and teh tarik with a hint of tobacco and nicotine.
Smokers and restaurants alike seem to be taking their time to adapt to the new law with nearly 5,400 warnings (both written and verbal) have been issued by law enforcers as early as the 2nd of January. The number may have very well skyrocketed by today. A mamak store worker was also assaulted for warning smokers against lighting up within the restaurant premises.
The implementation of this new law received mixed reactions from the Malaysian public with many cafes and restaurants heavily against the new law for a fear of losing out on business. GRADUAN spoke to several smokers to get their views on the smoking ban and what we found was quite interesting.
“As a smoker, I strongly agree with the smoking ban because I feel that we have a duty to protect the people, especially non-smokers. I understand that non-smokers are quite disturbed when cigarette smoke disrupts their meal as it can be quite unpleasant and harmful. The smoking ban in public eateries is a step to make restaurants more family friendly and I support this because I have a family of my own and wouldn’t want them to be breathing in cigarette smoke.”
“I think it’s a good initiative by the government to reduce bad smoking behavior among Malaysians and also I think this can help create healthy Malaysian citizens. The fact that restaurants are now smoke free makes them a better place.”
“I’m okay with it because I feel that it reduces the tendency for me to smoke after I eat and I’ve always felt uncomfortable smoking in public. I also support the ban because my New Year’s resolution is to reduce smoking. I also feel that this will undoubtedly eliminate the number of second-hand smokers.”
“To me, what the government needs to look at is the overall picture. They are elected leaders for smokers and non-smokers so their policies and what they want to implement must reflect this. They have a duty to take into consideration the views of smokers as well. I feel they should come up with a plan whereby all the eateries can voluntarily apply to their respective district councils to house smoking areas. If the eateries can afford to provide a smoking area then they should be free to do that, provided they are granted a legal status by their respective district councils. I feel that up to a certain level, this is a human rights issue. There must always be choices as this is a democratic country.”
“The law is not fair to smokers. It’s as if all smokers lack consideration, I think many smokers have consideration towards non-smokers and children around while we are lighting up. There are smokers that do not have that sense of respect and those are the people that need to be educated. The penalty of up to RM10,000 or two-year imprisonment for those found guilty of going against this law is as if smoking is such a heavy crime!.”
“I think it’s a really good move for the greater good of everyone within the public area. A greater mind set of mindfulness should take place as we strive to become not just a better nation but also better people. However, certain places do have shishas and it has become part of the culture and this contributes to the business. I feel there should be smoking areas so that everyone has some form of space.”
Get in touch with GRADUAN and let us know what you think about the smoking ban!
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