Monday, April 6

480 health officers to hit Sarawak streets to enforce smoking ban

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State Health department director Dr Jamilah Hashim shows a standard warning sign during the launch of the smoking ban in Kuching earlier this year. With her is Sarawak chief environmental health officer Billy Sujeng. – File photo

KUCHING: A total of 480 enforcement officers from the state Health Department will carry out the full enforcement of the smoking and vaping ban at all eateries across Sarawak, effective tomorrow.

This was disclosed by Health Department deputy director Dr Rosemawati Ariffin, who said the department will work closely with the police when carrying out enforcement for safety reason.

“The enforcement officers from Sarawak Health Department will carry out the full enforcement together with authorised enforcement officers from the local councils,” she told The Borneo Post when prompted for details on the new policy which will come into effect from Jan 1, 2020.

Dr Rosemawati said the enforcement will be carried out daily at all food premises for the first two weeks including on public holidays, followed by two times a week for the next six weeks, weekly for one month and twice a month for the subsequent five months.

She added that enforcement will thereafter be continued monthly.

“For any complaint received, our personnel will carry out an investigation as soon as possible and necessary action will be taken,” she said.

She said at present, there are 8,090 registered food premises in Sarawak, and that all of them are required to abide by the policy stipulated under the Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004 (Amendment 2018).

She added that pubs or entertainment outlets “are excluded but if these premises are serving food to their customers, they are required to follow the law”.

“Eatery owners must put up the standard size of the ‘No Smoking’ sign as in Schedule 3 of the Regulations and they are not to provide any ashtray on the serving tables.

“Those who fail to comply with this are committing an offence under Regulation 12(1)(b) of the same Regulations and can be compounded RM250 or fined up to RM5,000 or imprisonment not exceeding one year.”

Dr Rosemawati pointed out that educational enforcement will cease today (Dec 31) and notices under Section 32B of the Food Act 1983 will be issued straight away by enforcement officers to offenders.

Offenders can go to the nearest District Health Office to pay their compound.

For the first offence, the compound is RM250. Offenders who settle the compound within one month from the date of notice will see the amount reduced to RM150.

For the second offence, the compound will be the full RM250 and for the third and subsequent offences, the amount of the compound will be increased to RM350.

“Failure to pay the compound within 90 days of the date of issuance will result in offenders being charged in court and they can be fined up to RM10,000 or imprisoned for not more than two years,” stressed Dr Rosemawati.

She also said tourists or anyone from outside Sarawak are not exempted from the regulation.

Under the law, smokers are only allowed to light up at a distance of more than three metres from eateries and/or three metres from the last serving table at eateries.

She said food premises operators can “politely advise smokers not to smoke at their premises” by reminding them that it is an offence, and that those who fail to do so under Regulation 12(1)(a) of the Regulations can be fined up to RM3,000 or jailed up to six months.

At the same time, Dr Rosemawati encouraged smokers to kick the habit, saying those who wish to quit smoking can visit any Quit Smoking Clinic at any nearby government health clinic for advice and free treatment.

They can also register online through http://jomquit.moh.gov.my.

The public can lodge complaints of people smoking at eateries by sending photos as evidence, name of the location, as well as time and date of the offence via WhatsApp to the hotline number 010-8608949, or by calling 03-88924530 during office hours.