After Sarawak, Sabah says may review smoking ban

The federal Ministry of Health will enforce from January 1 next year a ban on smoking at all eateries, including open-air establishments. — Reuters pic
The federal Ministry of Health will enforce from January 1 next year a ban on smoking at all eateries, including open-air establishments. — Reuters pic

KOTA KINABALU, Dec 24 — Sabah is next to review the national smoking ban enforceable as of next year after Sarawak claimed that the east Malaysian state had autonomy over the matter.

Deputy Chief Minister and state Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Jaujan Sambakong said that he will bring the matter up to the state Cabinet before proceeding further.

“It must be a collective view as this is not only a national issue but also local. I will get advice from the Cabinet as well as the state attorney general.

“I need to take this into consideration although I am the local government and housing minister,” he said when asked by reporters here.

Jaujan was asked to comment on Sabah’s stand following Sarawak’s local government and housing minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian saying that Sarawak has autonomy over the matter under its Local Government Ordinance.

Sim said the ban does not apply to the state unless it adopts the new policy which takes effect next month.

“Until we adopt (the smoking ban), it is not applicable (in Sarawak),” he was quoted as saying in the Borneo Post.

However, Sabah’s Health and Well-being Minister Datuk Stephen Wong said that since health was under the prerogative of the federal government, the directive is enforceable.

“All laws under Ministry of Health are applicable throughout the country. The federal law on no smoking area is applicable to Sabah. No need to be adopted by the state by law,” he said.

The federal Ministry of Health will enforce from January 1 next year a ban on smoking at all eateries, including open-air establishments.

Those found smoking in prohibited areas will face a fine of up to RM10,000 or two years’ jail, while eateries that allow customers to light up face fines of up to RM2,500.

The Health Ministry said, however, that the first six months of 2019 would serve as a “grace period”, when offenders will be educated rather than punished immediately.

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