Judicial review on smoking ban to be heard on Aug 22

Smoking has been banned at all restaurants in the country from Jan 1.

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here today set Aug 22 to hear the judicial review filed by seven individuals challenging the decision by the health ministry to gazette all places in the country as non-smoking areas from Jan 1 this year.

Judge Mariana Yahya set the date in her chambers in the presence of lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla, who represented the seven applicants, while senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan represented the health ministry as the sole respondent.

Haniff, when met by reporters after the mention of the case, said the new date was fixed as the respondent had filed a new affidavit last Friday.

“The affidavit to object to the applications of all applicants was filed by the respondent. Under the law, we have 14 days to look into the affidavit before filing an affidavit-in-reply,” he said.

On Jan 29, seven individuals obtained permission at the High Court to initiate judicial review proceedings to challenge the smoking ban imposed by the ministry.

The seven, namely Mohd Hanizam Yunus, 53, Zulkifli Mohamad, 57, Mohd Laisani Dollah, 47, Mohd Sufian Awaludin, 36, Ridzuan Muhammad Noor, 53, Mohd Yazid Mohd Yunus, 49, and Yuri Azhar Abdollah, 40, filed the application in their individual capacity and on behalf of smokers who support the Smokers’ Rights Club.

In an application filed on Dec 31, 2018, all the applicants claimed that the ban went against the Federal Constitution as smoking was not deemed a criminal activity or banned in the country.

They claimed that smokers had equal rights as non-smokers to visit and spend their time in food premises for as long as they wished.

They further claimed that the smoking ban ran contrary to the provisions and principles of law, and went against procedures as the respondent was never reported to have met smokers or stakeholders to discuss the enforcement of the ban beforehand.

The applicants also claimed that the government did not provide adequate facilities such as smoking areas or include provisions under the smoking ban for entrepreneurs to prepare their own non-smoking areas.

They applied for a certiorari order to overrule the decision of the respondent to enforce the prohibition as well as the declaration that the enforcement of the ban went against the Federal Constitution.

The applicants also applied for a restriction order to prevent the respondent from enforcing the ban.

They also requested for a temporary suspension of the ban pending the outcome of the judicial review.

The health ministry had imposed a smoking ban at all restaurants and food premises, including those which were covered, air-conditioned, or open air, beginning Jan 1, with the focus on educating the public till June this year.

However, in April, the educational enforcement period was extended till the end of the year.