KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 2 — Despite being warned repeatedly, with education enforcement for 12 months since January 1, 2019, many smokers are still violating the smoking ban at eateries.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said in the first 24 hours of nationwide enforcement operation on Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004 (Op PPKHT), the number of smokers caught flouting the law was still high with 10 per cent found sticking to the old habit at the inspected premises.

Following that, 605 notices with a compound value of RM144,450 were issued and it showed many Malaysians were still ignoring the smoking ban which came into effect yesterday.

“This includes 34 notices issued to young smokers after 6,119 food premises were inspected during the operation from 8am yesterday,” he said in a statement today.

The enforcement operation which involved 2,087 enforcement officers, saw 103 notices with a compound value of RM25,750 issued to owners of the food premises, including 79 notices for failing to display no-smoking signs and 24 notices for providing smoking facilities.

“However, the percentage of offences committed by the eatery owners decreased from 47 per cent on the first day of 2019 to 1.7 per cent on the first day of this year as most of them carried out their responsibility to comply with the law,” he said.

Meanwhile, Health Ministry’s Disease Control Division director Dr Norhayati Rusli hoped the compound would drive smokers to quit their habits.

“Many facilities are available to help smokers quit including increasing the number of clinics that provide smoking cessation programmes, mQuit and counselling sessions, but many are still reluctant.

“Most of them who were arrested, responded that they did not know about the ban and it clearly showed the group’s indifferent attitude towards the regulation,” she said when contacted by Bernama.

Those who received notices for smoking offence may be fined RM250 while under Regulation 12 (1) (a) and 12 (1) (b), the owner of the premises who received the notice for such offences, may also be charged the same amount for the first and second offences, while the compound rate will be higher for the third offence and so on. — Bernama