Smoking ban: State health authority issues 1,622 warning notices in first 18 days

Dr Jamilah speaking at a recent press conference on the smoking ban in Sarawak.

KUCHING, March 20: Only 18 days into the smoking ban in eateries in Sarawak, the state Health Department has issued 1,622 warning notices including 178 to individuals caught smoking.

Its director Dr Jamilah Hashim said a total of 1,396 warning notices were issued to business proprietors for offences under Regulation 12(1)(a) of the Control of Tobacco Product (Amendment) Regulations 2018, which is failure to display the “No Smoking” sign.

Another 48 offences violated Regulation 12(1)(b) for not stopping individuals from smoking by putting ashtrays at their premises.

Miri recorded the highest number of warning offences issued under Regulation 12(1)(a) with 342, followed by Sibu at 214, Bintulu (190), Kuching (132), Mukah (114), Sarikei (113), Samarahan (95), Limbang (94), Serian (41), Betong (40), Kapit (13) and Sri Aman (8).

Bintulu Health office issued the most notices under Regulation 12(1)(b) with 19, followed by Kuching (12), Samarahan (6), Limbang (6), Miri (3) and one each in Betong and Sarikei.

“The Health Department has carried out educational enforcement activities since the ban took effect in Sarawak this month. Between March 1 and 18, the department has carried out checks on 5,876 food premises out of 8,090 registered in the state.

“We have also received 106 complaints involving individuals smoking at eateries and four complaints on business owners who failed to display the ‘No Smoking’ sign at their premises,” Dr Jamilah said in a statement yesterday.

On the 178 warning notices issued to smokers, which violated Regulation 11(1)(d), Kuching recorded the highest number of cases with 47, followed by Miri (41), Mukah (23), Sarikei (18), Bintulu (18), Samarahan (11), Serian (6), Kapit (5), Limbang (4), Sri Aman (3) and Sibu (2).

Sarawak enforced its no smoking ban at all eateries since March 1 this year. The federal government has banned smoking at all restaurants and food joint in Peninsular Malaysia starting Jan 1, while Sabah implemented their smoking on Feb 1.

The state Health Department expressed its gratitude to the local councils, associations and food business proprietors for their cooperation to ensure the smoking ban can be implemented successfully.

This to protect the public, especially children, pregnant women and senior citizens from the health hazards of cigarettes and second-hand smoke.

“We are happy with the positive response from food proprietors overall. Many are content that the smoking ban has improved the cleanliness of their premises, as there are no disposal of cigarette butts.

“Many smokers had given their cooperation by not smoking at the prohibited area. Response from customers was also encouraging, as they expressed satisfaction with the cleaner air quality at food outlets,” Dr Jamilah said.

She hoped that all food proprietors will take the initiative to display the ‘No Smoking’ signages at their premises and appealed to the public to abide by the smoking ban.

She added that the department provides mQuit services to help smokers kick their habit. The service is offered at government hospitals and clinics across the state, as well as private clinics and pharmacies.

For enquiries and registration for the mQuit service across the country, visit http://jomquit.moh.gov.my/. — DayakDaily