Eateries propose smoking zones rather than complete ban

GEORGE TOWN, 6 Dec 2018:

Coffee shop and eatery operators have proposed that the government allow them to designate smoking areas within their premises instead of completely banning smoking at these outlets.

Malaysia Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors’ General Association vice-presiden, Toon Koon Ku said the Ministry of Health should seek a win-win solution that would not only safeguard the comfort of patrons but also protect the rights of business owners.

Toon, who is also the president of Foochow Coffeeshop Owners Association, said the ministry should also have consideration for smoker’s rights and freedom to smoke in eateries and not completely segregate them from others.

“While I do respect the Health Ministry’s effort in enforcing the smoking ban in eateries to create a cleaner and healthier environment, there is a win-win approach which could be considered to accommodate the needs of all quarters,” he said at a press conference yesterday.

Earlier, a coalition of 15 associations – including Persatuan Tuan-Tuan Empunya Kedai Kopi dan Kedai Makanan Seberang Perai, Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (PRESMA), Penang Hoteliers Association, and Federation of Sundry Goods Merchants Associations of Malaysia – attended the press conference.

Penang Hoteliers Association chairman Datuk Lim Mee Lee said the Health Ministry should draw up a proper policy in order to persuade and convince the public to not smoke rather than imposing immediate strict enforcement.

He said eateries in other countries – such as Hong Kong and Japan – had already set up designated smoking areas to avoid non-smokers inhaling secondary smoke and suggested Malaysia should do the same.

“In order to change people’s smoking habit, the government should take proper steps. In my opinion, setting up designated smoking areas in business premises like coffee shops and restaurants would be a good step instead of a strict ban on smoking in eateries.”

In October, Deputy Health Minister Lee Boon Chye said the smoking ban would be enforced in all restaurants, coffee shops, hawker centres and open-air eateries nationwide, effective 1 Jan 2019.

A month after Lee made the proposal, coffee shop and restaurant owners gathered in Kuala Lumpur to object to the smoking ban, claiming the move would discourage smokers from patronising their eateries, thus affecting their business.

– Bernama