Malaysian government stands firm on smoking ban


Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad affirmed the government’s stance on the smoking ban at eateries, saying people should be able to enjoy their meals at restaurants. According to him, the ban on smoking at eateries, coffee shops and hawker centres is final, and that the government is not willing to compromise on the issue.

He added that the ban also extended to air-conditioned clubs and bars.

This follows protests by some trader groups who fear the ministry’s ban will drive away customers. They said such a rule should be left to the owners to implement.

On another matter, Dzulkefly said his ministry would look into studying the use of the controversial ketum leaves, which are used in traditional medicine, as an alternative for treating addictions. However, he said a decision to legalise ketum could not be made quickly as it would need scientific study.

Dzulkefly was responding to Padang Besar MP Zahidi Zainul Abidin who said yesterday that using ketum was better than methadone in treating addictions.

Dzulkefly said his ministry was always open to looking at treatments and practices around the world to ensure Malaysia was on par with other countries in terms of medical advancements.

“We are willing to consider this, but it needs scientific evidence and reasonable values.”

Existing laws ban the sale of ketum water or processed ketum materials as they are governed by the Poisons Act 1952. Planting ketum is not a crime unless it is done on a commercial scale.


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