Six months to educate smokers before enforcing penalty: Health Minister

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) – The Malaysian Health Ministry will use the educational approach and holistic explanations in the first six months of the smoking ban at eating premises and will only impose a penalty on errant smokers after that.

Its Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said the move was the normal standard operating procedure (SOP) to enable the public to understand it better before a punishment was meted out.

The ministry would not immediately punish because the priority now is to create awareness among smokers not to light up in banned areas to ensure the public is free from cigarette smoke pollutions.

‘’We are not here to punish, we want Malaysians to take care of their health, whether premises owner or citizens.

‘’We give a six-month campaign period to educate so no one is ignorant, after that there will be no more excuse,’’ he told a media conference after a walkabout to promote eateries as no smoking areas in Bandar Sri Permaisuri which was enforced nationwide from yesterday.

Dzulkefly said the ministry had 5,008 trained officers and Environmental Health assistant officers nationwide to monitor and issue verbal warnings to smokers or food outlet owners who failed to comply with the directive issued.

In the meantime, Dzulkefly also announced that following the walkabout the ministry planned to gazette more open areas such as laundries as no smoking areas in future.

‘’Just now, I had the opportunity to see public places such as laundry shops where some people who are waiting for their clothes to be cleaned will resort to smoking which will expose others to cigarette smoke.”