Be innovative, health minister tells businesses hurt by smoking ban

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad addresses a press conference at the Health Ministry in Putrajaya January 9, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad addresses a press conference at the Health Ministry in Putrajaya January 9, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 9 — Restaurants should come up with creative ideas to stem declining business caused by the government’s smoking ban, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad said today.

He claimed that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government was business-friendly, but insisted that it could not roll back on the smoking ban in all restaurants, including open-air establishments.

“As long as it’s three metres away, whatever you want to do, it’s your kind of innovation and creativity,” Dzulkefly told a press conference here today, when asked if restaurants would be allowed to provide smoking facilities for customers who smoke.

“As long as it is complied with, we are agreeable to that,” he added, referring to the smoking ban enforced on all restaurants in the peninsula since January 1.

When asked if restaurants would be allowed to provide an ashtray three metres away, for example, the Amanah minister said: “These are things we cannot be dictating, but all those basic rules we set, that must be observed.”

Restaurants and bars have reported a drop in customers since the smoking ban came into effect this year.