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GEORGE TOWN, Dec 5 — More than 15 associations representing restaurant and coffee shop operators are appealing against the government’s decision to ban smoking at all food outlets starting January 1.
Foochow Coffeeshop Owner’s Association president Toon Koon Ku said the government should allow all food outlets to prepare a smoking zone as an alternative to the blanket ban.
“It doesn’t make sense to ban smoking entirely at all food outlets as some outlets are located at terraced shoplots and if the smokers have to walk three metres away to smoke, they would be standing at another outlet,” he told a joint press conference with other restaurant operator associations.
He said the government should allow restaurants and coffee shops to have smoking zones within their premises for the convenience of their customers.
“The government can also categorise restaurants as ‘smoking’ or ‘non-smoking’ so consumers can choose the outlets,” he said.
He added that the blanket ban proposed will cause restaurants and coffee shops to lose customers and income.
He is worried that it may also create unfair penalties and inconvenience to food outlet operators.
Toon pointed out that the Penang government declared the George Town World Heritage Site as a smoke-free area but had also created smoking areas in the zone.
“The state government created 30 smoking areas within the heritage site for smokers so maybe the federal government should be like the Penang state government and come up with smoking areas at restaurants and coffee shops,” he said.
Muslim Restaurant Operators Association Malaysia committee member Noor Mohamed Mohd Abdullah claimed the smoking ban will affect about 3,000 of the association members in the country.
“Our members have over 30,000 outlets in the whole country and this move will affect the business of all these places,” he said, pointing out that the smoking ban will inconvenience their customers.
He said the ban was not practical and will only serve to penalise the food outlet operators.
“Food outlet operators will be the ones faced with compounds and fines on this in future,” he said.
He said the association has already submitted a memorandum to the federal government to reconsider its smoking ban and to allow all food outlet operators to have designated smoking areas within their premises instead of a blanket ban.
The smoking ban will be enforced from January 1 next year and it applies to all food outlets including restaurants, coffee shops and food courts.