Thursday, October 24

Teething troubles in compliance


Dr Jamilah shows a standard warning sign during the launch of the smoking ban in Kuching. With her is Sarawak chief environmental health officer Billy Sujang.

KUCHING: Just days into the ban on smoking at eateries across Sarawak, several food premises and smokers have been found to be flouting the new policy.

Sarawak Health Department director Dr Jamilah Hashim said these eateries and smokers were issued with warning notices, as per the six-month ‘education enforcement’ period.

“Smokers caught not adhering to the ban were issued warning notices under Regulation 11(1)(d) of the Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004 (Amendment 2018). They were also spoken to by the enforcement officers to help them understand the new policy,” she told The Borneo Post yesterday when asked for an update on the ban, which came into effect last Friday.

She added that  eateries found not complying with the requirement to place ‘No Smoking’ signs on their premises were issued with a warning notice under Regulation 12(1)(a) of the Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004 (Amendment 2018).

According to Dr Jamilah, her department had also received complaints against recalcitrant smokers from members of the public via WhatsApp, but admitted that in most cases, there was nothing much the enforcement team could do.

“Our enforcement officers will go to that food premises to investigate (upon receiving) the complaint. The challenge is that when we reach that food premises, those people who smoked there might have already left the premises,” she said.

Dr Jamilah said despite having to face uncooperative smokers, in general, both the public and food premises operators were happy with the smoking ban.

“Food premises operators are happy as their shops are cleaner without (discarded) cigarette butts.”

The full enforcement of the state’s smoking ban takes effect on Sept 1, with stipulated penalties for both food premises and smokers who violate the regulations.

Those caught smoking in prohibited areas can be fined up to RM10,000 or jailed for two years, while food premises operators who do not display the ‘No Smoking’ sign will be fined up to RM3,000 or imprisoned for six months.

Under the new policy, all food premises must display at least one standard ‘No Smoking’ sign measuring 40cm x 50cm, and can no longer provide ashtrays or other objects that allow smokers to dispose of cigarette butts.

For smokers, they must keep a distance of at least 3m from a food outlet should they wish to light up.

Those who wish to lodge a complaint against those flouting the smoking ban can call the Health Department’s hotline 082-443 248 during office hours.

For off-working hours, complaints can channelled via WhatsApp on 010-860 8949.

Such complaint must come with information such as the name of the food premises, location or address, date and time of the incident, or better still, a photo of the violation.

The smoking ban, which is Malaysia’s commitment as a member state to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, took effect in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah on Jan 1 and Feb 1, respectively.