Smoking ban on except for Sarawak – shame on the state

Philip Wong


The move by the federal government to ban smoking in all eateries is expected to start from Jan 1, 12019, in accordance with Malaysia’s commitment to the Framework, Convention on Tobacco Control under Article 8 of the World Health Organisation.

As reported and confirmed by Sarawak Local Government and Housing Minister Dr Sim Kui Hian, Sarawak will only make its stance on the matter known after a meeting with various stakeholders and the State Health Department on Jan 9.

This is really astonishing and certainly not what Sarawakians expect from the department and the state ministry. Why should such a straight-forward and beneficial law not be enforced in Sarawak together with the other states in the country?

Mildly put, this is a most embarrassing and ridiculous childish act by the state with regard to state autonomy on certain laws and acts, which is not doing any good to the people.

Why didn't the State Health Department consult with stakeholders first? Such lackadaisical efforts by the state authorities and ministry do not bode well for the future of the state and its people.

Smoking ban is not something new – it has been enforced worldwide and the audacity of making the statement to decide only after meeting stakeholders is most ridiculous, especially when stakeholders are eateries owners and operators.

Members of the public are wondering if the state authorities are taking the side of the small group of stakeholders or the mass majority of the population who definitely favour banning smoking in eateries.

Like it or not, this small group of smokers must comply with the ban for the good of the majority and it is absolutely unthinkable should the state decide not to enforce the ban due to the concerns of these stakeholders.

Surely, the mass majority of non-smoking customers to these eateries will be more rewarding for business than the small groups of smokers and so we should not pander to their whims and fancy.

It is high time the state seriously took the health of the people into consideration as medical expenses are amongst the most dreaded consequences of the old and elderly.

A smoking ban in all eateries will not hurt the income of operators much as long as the parameters for these smokers are adhered to in accordance with the act. Secondary smoke continues to be a huge contributor to many ailments and causing unnecessary worries and losses to many families worldwide.

It is timely that the state authorities put their foot down and enforce the smoking ban as it is for the good of the people.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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