PUTRAJAYA, Jan 11 — The smoking ban introduced nationwide on January 1 has helped raise revenue at some restaurants, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad said today.
At the same time, he acknowledged the news reports of some other restaurateurs complaining of a drop in revenue and said his ministry is willing to engage with the owners if they could show evidence of their losses.
“If they are suffering losses, they can come to us and show the evidence. We can discuss the matter.
“However, we have also received evidence that some restaurants have increased their revenue because patrons are bringing their families to these places. Last time they wouldn't bring their kids because of the cigarette smoke,” he told reporters after a New Year address to the Health Ministry in an assembly here.
Dzulkefly stressed that his ministry is not banning smoking outright but merely granting non-smokers more space to enjoy their meals.
He added that this was the way forward and pointed out that commercial airlines used to allow smoking aboard planes with designated smoking areas, but that such practices have stopped.
“You have to discipline yourself. In that space of time, show restrain. We will have better, healthier eateries. We won’t change if we keep doing the same thing over and over again,” he said.
Dzulkefly told reporters he is confident the smoking ban will also be rolled out in Sarawak soon when asked to respond to the state government’s announcement that it won’t adopt the federal policy yet.
He said he had spoken with the state Local Government and Housing Minister Prof Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian, who was favourable to the idea.
“I spoke with Datuk Dr Sim and he is a cardiologist. He told me that he will not go against the no-smoking enforcement. However, like Sabah, Sarawak needs their space.
“I am confident subsequently they will come on board with us. A responsible government must look after public health,” Dzulkefly said.