Six months grace period for smokers in open-air eateries, says Dr Lee

Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye speaks to the media during his working visit to the Malim Nawar Health Clinic, November 5, 2018. — Picture by Marcus Pheong
Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye speaks to the media during his working visit to the Malim Nawar Health Clinic, November 5, 2018. — Picture by Marcus Pheong

MALIM NAWAR, Nov 5 — Smokers will be given a six-month grace period before the new smoking ban is strictly enforced.

Dr Lee Boon Chye, the deputy health minister, said today the ban on smoking in all restaurants including non-air-conditioned outlets and outdoor eateries, will still come into force on January 1.

But strict enforcement, he said, will only start after six months.

“During the grace period, we will only give verbal warning to smokers if they smoke in open-air eateries or non-air-conditioned restaurants.

“However, if the smoker refuses to heed the warning and continues to smoke, then the smoker will be fined immediately,” he told reporters after visiting the Malim Nawar Health Clinic here.

Dr Lee also urged restaurants owners to display no-smoking signs and dispose of all ashtrays at their premises if they want to avoid being fined should a customer light up in their premises.

Last month, Dr Lee announced that the government will ban smoking in all eateries throughout Malaysia from next year onwards, including in open-air outlets.

He said action under the Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004 will be taken against restaurant owners and smokers who flout the ruling.

“Eateries that allow customers to smoke despite the ban will be fined up to RM2,500, while those who smoke at prohibited places will face a maximum fine of RM10,000 or two years’ jail,” he said.

Dr Lee hopes that the public will cooperate in heeding with the smoking ban as there is ample notice for compliance.

“So far, even though we have not imposed the ban, I hardly see any smokers in the open-air restaurants in my parliament area. This is already a good sign and achieves our intended motive,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Lee said they have designated an open-air smoking area on the first floor of the Parliament building following a smoking ban which came into effect last month.

“No new compound notice has been issued apart from the eight fines — including on a MP — which wereissued last month,” he said.

Previously, the ministry planned to designate a smoking area outside the Parliament building.

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