KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 12 — The government will ban smoking in all eateries throughout Malaysia from next year onwards, including in open-air outlets, Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye has said.
Lee said the new Health Ministry ruling will cover all types of restaurants including hawker centres and street stalls.
“This time, all restaurants regardless whether they are an enclosed area, air-conditioned or open-air will need to comply with the ruling from next year,” he was quoted saying yesterday after an event in Kedah by local daily The Star.
Dr Lee said action under the Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004 will be taken against restaurant owners and smokers that flout the new ruling.
According to The Star, eateries that allow customers to smoke despite the ban will be fined up to RM2,500, while those who smoke at prohibited places will face a maximum fine of RM10,000 or two years’ jail.
Dr Lee reportedly said the new ruling was intended to discourage existing smokers and to ensure non-smokers would not be affected by second-hand smoke.
“We are ready to face objections from smokers and restaurant owners, but we will not compromise when it comes to looking after the health of the people.
“No doubt smokers will say they have the right to smoke, but non-smokers also have the right to enjoy their food without being harmed by cigarette smoke,” he was quoted saying.
He also said business operators need not worry about losing patrons, expressing confidence that more non-smoking customers would eat at smoke-free outlets.
On enforcement, Dr Lee indicated it would be challenging and said the details have not been decided by the ministry.
This new ruling is on top of the smoke-free areas that are already in place in government buildings and public spaces.
Last month, Dr Lee said there are currently 23 areas designated as smoke-free under the Control of Tobacco Product (Amendment) Regulations 2017.
These include entertainment centres, theatres, elevators, public toilets, air-conditioned eateries, public vehicles, airports, government premises and any assembly points.
He reportedly proposed the closure of Parliament’s smoking room next month in a bid to turn the entire law-making House a smoke-free zone.
The Health Ministry was last month reported saying that all open air restaurants will be gazetted as non-smoking areas from December.