Smoking area must be outside area gazetted as non-smoking place: CAP

GEORGE TOWN: The Health Ministry's proposal to provide designated smoking areas outside dining premises, especially for those located in tight places, is not a backward step, says the Consumers' Association of Penang (CAP).

The move, according to CAP anti-smoking activist and education officer N.V. Subbarow is to protect non-smokers, who are the majority in Malaysia, especially the elderly, pregnant women, children and those at risk from the dangers of smoke or vapour from smoking products, including electronic cigarettes or vaping.

"CAP wants to emphasise that the provision of this designated smoking area must be in line with Article 8 of the World Health Organisation Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) which is 'Protecting non-smokers from the dangers of cigarette smoke or other smoking products'.

"CAP also wants to remind that the smoking ban under Regulation 11(1) of the Tobacco Products Control Regulations (PPKHT) 2004 only applies to smokers who are a minority in Malaysia which is 21.3 per cent. They are still free to smoke anywhere other than the 23 places gazetted under the Regulations.

"CAP also welcomes the efforts of the ministry in ensuring that the food premises are always clean and safe for every visitor," he said today.

It was reported that the ministry would consider providing designated smoking areas outside dining premises, especially for those located in tight spaces.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said this was because for these types of eateries, it was difficult to adhere to the three-metre distance currently enforced.

Today, Dr Dzulkefly said they were willing to listen to the views of all regarding the issue of designated smoking zones, including at eateries.

He said this was to enable the government to come up with the best possible solution for everyone before it is brought to the cabinet.

Elaborating, Subbarow said the Clean, Smoke-Free Premises Walkabout Programme (BeBAs) was an effort by the ministry to reach out to the people through engagement and community empowerment together with food premises owners in Jalan Alor, Bukit Bintang.

This effort, he said, should be made a main focus to ensure the level of safety and quality of food in the dining area is always in good condition and smoke-free.

"In addition, this is also proof that the ministry always listens to every complaint of the community at every level, including visitors to food premises, traders and local community leaders," he added.

The BeBAs programme provides enlightenment to the community about the ban on smoking in existing eating places and also the proposal to provide a special area for smoking as already existed in Jalan Kampong Kolam, George Town.

With community empowerment and sustainable enforcement, this special area for smokers will not be arbitrarily filled by the underage group (OBD) and at the same time succeed in cultivating the practice of not smoking among the community.

"Community support and togetherness is necessary to create more comfortable, beautiful and clean food premises as well as to create a healthy country free from any form of smoking by the year 2040.

"At the same time, smokers also need to be helped to quit smoking through treatment in clinics or visit the website," he said.

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