Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad says the ministry will not backtrack on its decision to ban smoking at eateries. Pic by NSTP/AZHAR RAMLI

PUTRAJAYA: Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad says the ministry will not backtrack on its decision to ban smoking at eateries.

He said this following appeals from some quarters to rescind the ruling.

“No. I’m not backtracking on this, that’s for sure,” he told a press conference today.

“However, we will keep doing what is best for the people.

“We will face whatever criticism. We will also have a judicial review as I have engaged with the attorney-general and other legal minds to help me and the ministry.”

There have been complaints from eatery operators and smokers since the ban came into force on Jan 1.

On Dec 31, the protem committee of a smokers’ rights group filed an application for a judicial review to challenge the ban.

Asked whether the ministry would allow restaurants to have designated smoking areas, he said they would be allowed to do so.

“I have been getting alot of feedback on this.

“We are business friendly. So long as premise owners observe the requirements and regulations, we are more than happy to see innovative ideas for establishing smoking spaces.

“They (premise owners) must understand that the ban is in place because we don’t want other restaurant-goers to be subjected to the hazards of smoking.

“As long as they observe the 3m gap, we are agreeable.”

Dzulkefly said the ban had received a lot of support even though there complaints from the smokers group.

In the long run, he said, the ban would have a positive impact in reducing non-communicable diseases.

Up to yesterday, he said, some 30,548 premises had been visited by enforcement officers and 13,724 warnings had been issued.

“A total of 76,274 pamphlets were distributed and 75,280 individuals were approached,” he added.

He said the ministry would consider allowing smokers to smoke in eateries after 10pm.

He said Sabah had expressed its readiness to implement the ruling.

“Sabah has agreed and we will leave the implementation of the ban to them to decide.

“As for Sarawak, we are also hopeful that they will be on board soon.”

723 reads