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Pelita executive director Datuk K.K. Sihabutheen (left) with Pelita’s CEO Datuk Shamsuri Ahmad. NSTP/ROSLI AHMAD

BUTTERWORTH: The sales of cigarettes at all of Pelita Samudra Pertama (M) Sdn Bhd (Pelita) chain of restaurants nationwide will cease by year’s end.

The move was in support of the government’s smoking ban in eateries and restaurants which took effect on Jan 1.

Pelita executive director Datuk K.K. Sihabutheen, in welcoming the government’s efforts, said Pelita was prepared to stop the sales of cigarettes despite calls for the government to retract the smoking ban.

He, however, said Pelita needed more time to implement the measure due to the short notice given on the smoking ban.

“For now, we are tied to contracts with cigarettes distributors but we will phase out all over-the-counter sales in stages until year’s end.

“We are confident that customers will support our move. What more, many of them who come here are non-smokers and many of them also want a smoke-free area,” he told a press conference here today when asked to comment on the smoking ban enforced by the government in eateries and restaurants effective Jan 1 this year.

The smoking ban at all food premises was gazetted on Dec 31 and took effect midnight on New Year’s Day.

The ban was in line with the Control of Tobacco Product Regulations (Amendments) 2018 to protect the public from exposure to cigarette smoke.

Anyone found guilty of the offence can be fined up to RM10,000 or jailed up to two years under Regulation 11 of the Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004.

Restaurant operators who fail to display the smoking ban signs can be fined up to RM3,000 or jailed up to six months under Regulation 12 of the Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004. Those who fail to prevent customers from smoking, as well as those who provide smoking facilities for customers can be fined up to RM5,000 or imprisoned up to one year.

For now, the Health Ministry assured that it would not penalise anyone yet for failing to comply with the nationwide ban and only warnings would be issued for the first six months.

On a separate matter, Sihabutheen said he believed his customers are not easily swayed by WhatsApp messages going viral, questioning Pelita’s halal status.

“Every year, we face such slander (that we are not halal). Again, I want to stress that all out 30 restaurants nationwide are certified halal by Jakim since 2012 according to the stipulated procedures and criteria.

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