Following the announcement by Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye that smoking will be banned in all restaurants and hawker stalls across Malaysia beginning 2019, restaurant operators wanted to have a designated smoking area within their premises
The suggestion was put forth by Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owners Association president Muthusamy Thirumeni and Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association president Ayoob Khan Muhamad Yakub, reported NST Online.
Both Muthusamy and Ayoob wanted the Health Ministry to allow restaurant operators to have a designated space for smoking within their premises.
According to them, dining out and smoking cigarettes was a "culture" of sorts among certain segments here as many liked smoking in between having a glass of teh tarik.
They believed that because of this apparent "culture", the smoking ban might not work unless there are continuous awareness campaigns and stricter enforcement.
However, restaurants will not be allowed to have any designated smoking area as the proposal has been rejected by the government
According to a report in NST Online, Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said they could not consider the proposal as public health was still their main priority.
The suggestion that designated areas will help smokers overcome their addiction is not the way to go as it will instead result in a safe haven for them to smoke.
Dr Lee said the ministry will remain consistent in their decision to have more smoke-free areas which will now include open-air eateries, adding that smokers and restaurant operators found flouting the rule risk action taken against them.
The smoking ban, set to come into effect from 1 January 2019, includes all air-conditioned and open-air restaurants, coffee shops, hawker centres, and street stalls. Read more about the ban here: