GEORGE TOWN, Jan 7 – Health enforcers caught 648 people lighting up in non-smoking zones last year and issued RM48,430 worth of compounds, state exco Dr Afif Bahardin said.
The state health committee chairman said the health department regularly conducted anti-smoking enforcement in areas gazetted under Cigarette Smoke-free Penang (Penbar).
He said each smoker caught in smoke-free zones may be fined between RM250 and RM5,000, depending on the offence.
“Now, we are conducting educational enforcement at eateries to create awareness on the smoking ban in eateries which is an extension to Penang’s smoke-free programme,” he said after visiting several outlets today.
He said the health department has visited 1,394 premises in the state since January 1 to hand out non-smoking signs to be displayed.
“A total seven warnings were issued to smokers since January 1,” he said.
Out of the 1,394 premises visited, 794 did not have non-smoking signs showing, he added.
On plans to turn the whole state into a smoke-free zone, Dr Afif said the state government was still studying the process and implementation procedures.
“It is important for us to identify zones for smokers to smoke, this must be clearly defined,” he said.
He added that he hoped the smoke-free Penang policy can be implemented by this year.
The George Town Unesco world heritage site was declared a smoke-free zone in 2015 and enforcement action against smokers in the zone started in 2016.
Other areas declared smoke-free in the state include public spaces like parks, educational institutions, hospitals and government buildings.
Dr Afif said the public should not only rely on enforcement action by the authorities to stop smokers from smoking in smoke-free zones.
“Our long-term objective is to educate the public to be more aware about second-hand smoke so that they can tell smokers not to smoke in smoke-free zones,” he said.
He said public tolerance against smoking in public spaces should be low so as to deter smokers from puffing away in these places.
He believed that most Malaysians supported the government’s move to ban smoking in eateries and many public areas.
“Only smokers will object but I believe a majority of the people support this move as this is for the benefit of all,” he said.