Smoking ban will more likely increase coffee shop business — Sabrina Lee

MAY 31 — I am writing in response to the coffee shop owners who are protesting against the extended smoking ban. Frankly, I feel you should be ashamed of yourselves for protesting against what is honourable, right and good for the whole nation.

I am an ordinary non-smoking citizen. I have been inhaling second-hand smoke for 45 years and am looking forward to the time when I can eat peacefully in a coffee shop without having someone lighting up and spoiling the whole atmosphere. We (non-smokers) have been suffering considerably due to the inconsiderate nature of most smokers.

I find all the excuses given by the coffee shop owners who are against the smoking ban to be illogical and downright does not make good business sense. There are more non-smokers than smokers.  Many non-smokers are avoiding coffee shops due to heavy smoking by some patrons. If smoking is banned, then more non-smokers will come and eat at their coffee shops. As non smokers are the majority, doesn’t it make sense that coffee shop owners should appeal to the majority (non-smokers) instead of the minority (smokers).

Examples of why enforcing smoking ban will increase business at coffee shops:

1) One excellent example is I (as a non-smoker) has hardly ever eaten at rest stops due to too many smokers loitering there.  However, when the no smoking ban was enforced at rest stops, I started visiting these rest stops and boy, was I amazed at how crowded and cleaner these rest stops have become (no cigarettes butts thrown all over)! Certainly, business has multiplied many times for these rest stops ever since the no smoking ban is enforced. I could see that there are more and more families with kids coming out to eat at these rest stops.

2) More and more people are choosing to eat at air-conditioned eateries not because of the air-con alone (because it costs us more) but because they can’t stand the smoke and because they are cleaner. We can see that business is getting better and better for eateries which have “no smoking” enforced and are charging reasonable prices. I can see that even smokers can choose to abstain from their bad habit of smoking if they want to. Look at the throngs in Mid Valley eateries. I am sure there are many who smoke and yet, to be with their family and to enjoy their shopping, they can choose not to smoke. From my observation, eateries that have smoking ban or non-smoking areas enjoy better business than those which do not.

Some coffee shop owners said that the smoking ban will drive away patrons. As far as I know, it is bad food, bad service and dirty premises that drive away patrons. Everyone has to eat, including smokers. If the smoking ban is enforced in all eateries and since there are no other “smoking eateries” to go to, don’t tell me the smokers won’t be going out to eat and will choose to go home or bring their own food to eat.

Most importantly, smoking should be banned to stop young people from developing this evil habit. I call it evil because it destroys lives. If anyone thinks otherwise, I would like to ask these questions, “Do you approve or encourage your young children to smoke?” or “Would you approve a teacher who teaches school children to smoke?” or “Would you smoke next to a beloved person who is dying of ill health?” or "When you are very sick, do you abstain from smoking?"

To the silly remarks of some coffee shop owners who said that people come to coffee shops to smoke and not just to eat, I would like to ask, “Why would you want to keep patrons who just linger around to smoke? They use up your spaces, electricity, and dirty and pollute your premises with their smoke and cigarette butts.” With the smoking ban, I believe they will still come to your shop to eat (don’t tell me they don’t need to eat). After eating, they will then leave if they have to smoke. You will then have more spaces to cater to on-coming patrons and your coffee shop will be cleaner (with no cigarette butts littered around).

Much as I tried, I could not find one good thing about smoking. The very fact that smoking destroys our health and costs us millions in medical bills is a very valid reason to ban smoking in all public areas, especially coffee shops.

As to Ho Su Mong, The Malaysia-Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors’ General Association’s president’s remarks “Smokers have rights too,” I would like to add, “Not if it harms another person.” And it is for certain, smoking is harmful to all human beings. Finally to all coffee shop owners who protest against the smoking ban, I would like to ask “Are you protesting because you yourself or your own family members or your own friends want to smoke in your coffee shops?”

Therefore, I appeal to the Ministry of Health, “Please, please, please ban smoking in all eateries and public places. It is critical for the good health and prosperity of our whole nation Malaysia. I believe enforcing the smoking ban will be a major contribution to the country that will bring numerous benefits to our country Malaysia for a long time. ”

Lastly, may God bless all coffee shop owners who choose to enforce the smoking ban for the good health of all (both non-smokers and smokers).

* This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.