Health ministry’s smoking ban hotline restored

The health ministry’s hotline allows the public to report those who light up in public places which have been declared as no-smoking zones. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: The health ministry hotline set up to facilitate public complaints on those who breach the smoking ban at public places has been restored, a day after reports that it was blocked by WhatsApp over privacy concerns.

Checks by FMT revealed that the ministry’s Tobacco Control Sector was responding to messages sent to 60108608949, where details such as the name of the premise and its address are requested.

“We have taken note of the details you sent and we will pass it to the health department nearest to you,” the message read.

Yesterday, it was reported that messages sent to the hotline were not going through, with no “double tick” sign on the app to indicate that they had been received.

The ministry’s hotline allows the public to report those who light up in public places, including closed and open-air eateries which have been declared as no-smoking zones.

Members of the public were told to accompany their complaints with photographs of smokers in the act and the location of the offence.

Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad later said his ministry would meet with Facebook as soon as possible to resolve the matter.

Facebook owns WhatsApp.

Dzulkefly said the hotline was blocked after WhatsApp received a complaint that it contravened the app’s terms and conditions.

The smoking ban was imposed on Jan 1, with fines of up to RM10,000 or three years’ jail imposed on patrons as well as premise owners who fail to implement the ruling.

Smokers are now only allowed to smoke 3m away from any restaurant.

A six-month grace period, ending next month, to suspend punishment on offenders has been further extended to the end of the year.