Monday, July 03, 2006

No-Smoking Enforcement To Be Improved Before Extending Ban

KUALA LUMPUR, July 3 (Bernama) -- The Health Ministry is focusing on tightening enforcement in no-smoking areas before it considers extending the ban to outdoor eateries and entertainment outlets.
"We have to tighten the enforcement first as we feel we have not done enough on this part. There are still many public places which have not fully enforced the no-smoking rule," the ministry's Parliamentary Secretary Lee Kah Choon told Bernama Monday.
He blamed the situation on the lack of enforcement officers, which he said the authorities would need to address urgently.
Currently, smoking is banned in schools, hospitals, government buildings and public waiting areas.
Lee was asked to comment on Singapore's decision to extend its no-smoking prohibition to outdoor hawker centres beginning this month and to entertainment outlets such as pubs, discos and karaoke lounges from July next year.
The republic's legislation requires bar owners to set aside smoking rooms while food outlets have to designate special smoking corners to protect non-smokers from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.
Lee said the Control of Tobacco Regulations 2004 empowers the Health Minister to add to the list of no-smoking areas whenever there was a need to do so.
The ministry's communicable diseases control division director Datuk Dr Ramlee Rahmat said the ministry had planned to include more areas as no-smoking places under the regulations.
"They would include eateries and entertainment places," he said.
The government has taken several measures to discourage smoking among Malaysians, such as imposing stiff duties on tobacco products and banning the sale of small packets of 14 sticks of cigarettes or less since last month.
Also banned are cigarette advertisements and posters at public places, including coffee shops and mini markets, besides disallowing tobacco companies from sponsoring soccer tournaments since 2004 and the Formula One races since last year.
About 10,000 Malaysians die each year from tobacco-related illnesses, mainly cancer, stroke and cardiovascular diseases.

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