Sarawak state cabinet will decide on Jan 24 on the mechanism to enforce the smoking ban at all eateries in the state.
Local Government and Housing Ministry permanent-secretary Bakrie Zaini said a cabinet paper is now being prepared for this purpose.
Minister of Local Government and Housing Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian is scheduled to present the cabinet paper, which Bakrie said would include views and suggestions and stakeholders.
Bakrie mentioned these today during a dialogue organised by the ministry and Sarawak Health Department with the stakeholders, during which a memorandum from the Federation of Coffee Merchants and Restaurants Sarawak was received.
“A cabinet paper is now being prepared to be presented at the cabinet meeting on Jan 24. Input from stakeholders including this memorandum will be considered.
“Whatever it is, anti smoking is now a global trend, a global movement. This is just a start, one day it will be a culture. There are suggestions to have designated area for smoking, maybe the local councils can pick this up. Just like in Seoul, Korea where they have a place like mini park for people to smoke,” he said.
Sarawak Health Director Dr Jamilah Hashim said the department will follow through whatever is decided after the cabinet meeting on Jan 24.
She assured the proprietors of eateries that they will not be penalised within six months after such ban is enforced.
She said the department will instead guide the eateries on matters such as placement of the anti smoking signage and how to discourage smoking by no longer placing ashtrays on the table during that period.
“We are not banning smokers. They can still smoke within three meters or 10 feet away. But we want to protect the non-smokers. This is not just about second-hand smoke, but also to protect those with eye irritation, those with asthma, the expectant mothers and so on, ” she said.
Earlier, some members of the audience raised several issues including how their business could be affected when the ban is enforced.
Also present at the dialogue were Ministry of Health Head of Non Communicable Disease Section Dr Nor Aryana Hassan amd senior officials from the relevant agencies.