KUCHING, Sept 20: Kuching North City Hall (DBKU) will gazette all open-air eateries, including food stalls under its jurisdiction, as no-smoking zones effective Jan 1, 2019.
Its Datuk Bandar, Datuk Abang Abdul Wahap Abang Julai, said DBKU was in the process of gazetting a law to prohibit people from lighting up cigarettes in smoke-free areas. The gazettement is to encourage smokers to kick the habit as well as to protect non-smokers from second-hand tobacco smoke.
DBKU is also in discussion with eateries on the setting up of suitable spots as smoking zones in the vicinity of their premises so that smokers can only take a puff in designated areas.
“It has been planned for quite some time to turn all food premises in our jurisdiction to become smoke-free zones. We need to gazette by law to make it a violation to smoke in these zones.
“We will ask eateries, restaurants, coffee shop operators and also food stall hawkers to display ‘no smoking’ signages at their premises as a reminder that smoking is prohibited,” Abang Abdul Wahap told reporters after opening the “DBKU Gathering with Food Business Owners and Operators” programme here today.
The programme, which attracted some 100 participants, aimed to raise awareness on food safety and cleanliness. It was also to discuss issues related to the food sector.
On the compound for smoking in smoke-free zones, he said currently violators could be slapped with a RM200 fine.
He added that DBKU had several officers who were authorised to fine individuals who violated smoke-free zones. There will be more of such officers in the future.
The Health Ministry announced on Sept 7 its plan to gazette all open-air restaurants, coffee shops and hawker stalls as no-smoking areas from this December. The gazettement is part of Malaysia’s commitment, as a member state of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, to adhere to guidelines under Article 8 of the World Health Organisation, said Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye.
The current Control of Tobacco Product (Amendment) Regulations 2017 prohibits smoking in 21 areas, including hospitals, public toilets, lifts, government premises, air-conditioned shops and offices, and also public parks.
Those smoking at prohibited areas can be fined RM10,000 or face imprisonment of not more than two years.
On another matter, Abang Abdul Wahap agreed that DBKU still needed to carry out more awareness programmes and engagement with business owners to raise the standard of food businesses.
To date, DBKU has licensed 347 food premises (103 Grade A and 244 Grade B), 348 stall hawkers and 144 supermarkets.
In a joint effort with DBKU, food business operators will display health campaign posters at their premises to promote safety in food handling.
“It is important for food business owners and operators to adhere to laws and regulations while maintaining the cleanliness of their premises and the safety standard of the food,” he said. — DayakDaily