Restaurant smoking ban in full force come 2020, says deputy health minister

Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye visits a booth after officiating the Antimicrobial Conference and Workshop at Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang December 20, 2019. ― Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye visits a booth after officiating the Antimicrobial Conference and Workshop at Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang December 20, 2019. ― Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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GEORGE TOWN, Dec 20 — Authorities will strictly enforce laws against smoking at restaurants from January 1 once the current familiarisation period ends, Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said today.

Enforcement action will include random inspections to nab violators of the law introduced this year but were relaxed to allow time for adjustment.

“We will enforce this ban and we hope to get the support from the public on this,” he said.

He said the ministry has about 5,000 environmental health officers nationwide who will conduct random spot checks to issue summonses to those flouting the ban.

The first offence is punishable by a RM250 fine that could snowball to RM10,000 if left unpaid and brought to court.

Dr Lee advised smokers to take this opportunity to quit entirely or at least cut down on their consumption.

“Smokers can change their habit of not smoking in front of others because we know second-hand smoke is harmful to others,” he said.

He added that users of electronic nicotine delivery systems or vapes would be treated similarly as smokers.

Dr Lee said the adult smoking rate was now 21 per cent, with the incidence of public smoking declining significantly in the past year.

The no-smoking ruling at all eateries technically started on January 1 this year but the focus was on educating the public and creating awareness instead of punishment.

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