GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government is currently studying a proposal to make the state free of cigarette smoke, with a view of making it a reality in the next five years.
Penang Health, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry and Rural Development Committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin said the Health Department would first have to identify the designated smoking zones before the ruling can be implemented – possibly in the next five years.
"We want to make the whole of Penang a smoke-free zone, so the question that arises is where can smokers puff away?
"As such, the Health Department is reviewing it and finding zones where they are allowed to smoke.
"We want to ensure that this smoke-free zone policy is clearly defined, with people knowing where they can smoke and where they can dispose of their cigarette butts, as well as other related issues,” he said.
Dr Afif was speaking to reporters after attending a World No Tobacco Day 2019 event organised by the Penang Adventist Hospital at Occupy Beach Street here, on Sunday.
Six public recreational parks in the state have been gazetted as non-smoking areas since 2012 under the Smoke-Free Penang (Penbar) programme.
The six parks are the Air Itam Dam, Municipal Park, Botanical Garden, Teluk Bahang Dam, Ampang Jajar Town Park and Mengkuang Dam.
To date, there are over a hundred smoke-free zones in the state including places of worship and the six parks, apart from eateries.
Afif said engaging the smokers is crucial towards making the policy a success when it is carried out, and that he remains positive that smokers will abide by the ruling.
"When Malaysians travel abroad, they can follow the rules of the respective country. So there should not be a problem if we were to do it here too.
"What is important is that we want to create a no-smoking culture," he added.