GEORGE TOWN, Jan 15 ― A state assemblyman called today for the prohibition of smoking to be expanded from restaurants to car parks, stairways, and hallways.
Kebun Bunga assemblyman Jason Ong Khan Lee from PKR said the smoking ban should also be expanded to drivers while driving.
He said this will ensure a smoke-free environment for the public in these places.
Ong said the smoking ban should be strictly enforced, not only in restaurants after six months, but in other designated smoke-free areas, especially toilets.
“Those caught lighting up in toilets and other gazetted smoke-free areas face up to RM10,000 in fines or two years imprisonment,” he said in a statement today.
The smoking ban in restaurants, which started on January 1, is in addition to other no-smoking areas such as government buildings, hospitals, schools, parks, cinemas, shopping malls, lifts, toilets and most air-conditioned areas.
In Penang, all public parks and the George Town Unesco world heritage site are also smoke-free zones.
Ong suggested that a rehabilitation centre be set up to help smokers kick the habit.
“Smokers caught flouting the smoking ban can be made to attend a compulsory session with a therapist at the rehabilitation centre,” he said.
He said a smoke-free environment will lead to a cleaner, greener and healthier Penang and Malaysia.
“Hopefully, after the six months grace period, more people will get to enjoy smoke-free air during meals,” he said.
He said some people regarded smoking and drinking as personal freedoms but that in reality, tobacco and alcohol were allowed because of taxes on those products.
“Everyone knows that sin taxes make up a bulk of the country’s revenue and that is the reason why unhealthy products such as tobacco and alcohol have not been banned in any countries yet,” he said.
He warned that soon, sugar will join the ranks of tobacco and alcohol as a taxable item.
Ong said that 22.8 per cent of Malaysians above the age of 15 years old are smokers according to the National Health and Morbidity Survey conducted in 2015.
“It is estimated that 20,000 Malaysians die from diseases linked to smoking,” he said.
He said this will only increase the country’s health care expenses so there is a need to increase awareness to reduce the number of smokers in the country.