Hundreds of summons were issued against food premise owners and smokers across the country yesterday, 1 January, the first day of full enforcement of the smoking ban
Yesterday, across the country, enforcement officers were deployed to make inspection rounds at eateries
In Penang, they dressed in plain clothes, monitored, and looked out for smokers at each location before stepping in to identify themselves and issue the compounds.
According to The Star, Penang Health Department director Dr Asmayani Khalib said they inspected 236 premises and issued 16 compound notices.
Even a 60-year-old hawker at the Bayan Baru Food Court was not excluded. He was among the first to be slapped with a RM250 fine for lighting up despite neighbouring hawkers warning him against it.
In Kuala Lumpur, four compound notices were issued during the enforcement operations
Titiwangsa senior environmental health officer, Nordayana Musa, who led the operation in the city, told Bernama that some smokers begged to be issued a warning instead of a compound notice on grounds that they were not aware of the enforcement of the smoking ban.
In Pahang, out of 656 eateries inspected, 51 individuals were caught smoking while four food outlets were issued compounds for allowing customers to smoke on their premises and failing to display a 'No Smoking' sign.
In Negeri Sembilan, a simultaneous operation carried out by 95 enforcement officers from seven District Health Offices across the state recorded 42 notices issued through inspections on 379 eateries.
In Selangor, a total of 64 compound notices were issued by the Selangor Health Department.
Meanwhile in Johor, five people - including two tourists from Egypt and Singapore - were issued compound notices
According to New Straits Times, the 25-year-old Egyptian, who had been travelling in the country for almost three weeks, claimed that he did not know about the smoking ban, despite the many 'No Smoking' signs at the restaurant.
"Although the tourist was disappointed with the summons notice, he accepted it after our officers explained to him about the new ruling," said Johor chief health and environmental officer Kayrul Hidayah Mansor.
In Melaka, it was reported that restaurant owners have mostly complied with the new ruling
"This reflects the fact that restaurateurs are following the move to gazette eateries as no-smoking zones," said the state Health and Anti-Drug Committee chairman Low Chee Leong, as quoted by The Star.
He added that all the eateries had also stopped providing amenities for smokers, like ashtrays.
Smoking in all restaurants, coffee shops, hawker centres, and even open-air eateries is banned starting this year
Under the new ruling, those found smoking in prohibited areas will be subjected to a compound fine of RM250.
Besides tobacco products, vape and shisha with nicotine are also included in the ban.
Offenders who fail to settle the summons can be hauled to court to be fined up to RM10,000 or face two years' jail.
While the law was introduced in 2018, it was relaxed throughout 2019 to allow time for adjustment.
Eatery operators are also required to play their role by not allowing customers to smoke on their premises
They have to make sure smokers only light up at least 3 metres away from their doorsteps.
They are also required to prominently display a 'No Smoking' poster that measures at least 40cm by 50cm inside their eatery.
Business owners can be fined RM250 for the first and second offences, and RM350 for the third offence if they fail to comply.