Put off smoking ban until challenge is disposed of, says group

Persatuan Kesedaran Merokok is challenging the ban on smoking at eateries.

GEORGE TOWN: A pro-smoking advocacy group today urged the government to delay the full enforcement of the smoking ban at eateries, scheduled for Jan 1, by six more months to allow the Appeals Court to decide on their challenge.

The law has been in effect since Jan 1 this year but smokers had been given a “grace period”, termed educational enforcement period, of 12 months.

Persatuan Kesedaran Merokok (PKM) chairman Mohd Hanizam Yunus said since their appeal against an earlier High Court decision, which dismissed their challenge, had not been disposed of, it was only right for the government to extend the moratorium.

“We have instructed our lawyer, Haniff Khatri Abdulla, to write to the health minister to extend the moratorium from Dec 31, 2019, to June 30, 2020.

“This is to allow the appellate court to decide and so there is no prejudice to all parties, either us smokers or the ministry,” Hanizam said in a statement.

The letter to the minister was sent on Dec 24, he said, but there had been no reply.

Hanizam said the appellate court had set Jan 17 for the next case management, and hoped the minister could come up with a ” positive, fair and just statement” soon.

In January, a group of seven describing themselves as “defenders of smokers” filed a suit against the government at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur, claiming it was unconstitutional to ban people from smoking at eateries.

In October, the court upheld the smoking ban, saying smokers were still allowed to smoke more than 3m from the eateries.

From Jan 1, those caught smoking at eateries may be fined RM250 or face a RM10,000 fine if the matter was brought to court.