6 months of warnings before smokers punished for violating ban, says govt

A nationwide smoking ban in restaurants and eateries comes into effect on Jan 1. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: The government is giving a six-month grace period when the ban on smoking in restaurants nationwide comes into effect next month, saying there would be warnings issued to offenders before they are penalised.

Deputy Health Minister Lee Boon Chye said the period would be a time to educate the people on the new law, which has come under criticism from restaurant owners who fear it would affect their business.

“The first six months is more towards warning and education.

“The enforcement will be done in stages by state health departments,” he told reporters at the Parliament today.

He said eateries must not provide facilities for smokers such as ashtrays and smoking areas.

He said restaurant owners who find it difficult to stop people from smoking could lodge a complaint through the ministry’s hotline number at 03-88924530.

“If they want to smoke, they must do it at least 10 feet away from the premise,” he said, adding that smokers who refuse to observe the ban would be penalised.

He said “no-smoking” signs should be displayed prominently.

The smoking ban applies to all restaurants, coffee shops and hawker centres from Jan 1, including open-air eateries.

The ban also applies to vaporised liquid nicotine (vape) and shisha.

Lee admitted that the ban would face enforcement problems.

“The most important thing is not just enforcement but also education and cooperation from the public.

“We need their assistance in educating smokers and non smokers alike to discourage smokers to not smoke in non smoking zones.”