MOH mulls designated smoking areas for eateries in tight spaces

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 18: The Ministry of Health (MOH) will consider providing designated smoking areas outside dining premises, especially for those located in tight spaces. 

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said this is because for these types of eateries, it was difficult to adhere to the three-metre distance currently enforced.

“The Ministry of Health is considering this, we understand that a three-metre distance (for smoking) from dining premises is almost close to other premises… We will certainly consider the need to establish designated areas or specific places, as seen in other developed countries such as Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong where they have permitted smoking areas,” he said.

He told newsmen this after a roundtable meeting in conjunction with the Clean, Smoke-Free Premises (BeBAs) Walkabout Programme.

“We will seriously consider places in tight spaces like Jalan Alor in Bukit Bintang here to establish special areas for smokers.

“It’s not a backward or regressive step, but to ensure that they do not smoke or violate the three-metre ban that is being enforced,” he said.

“Meanwhile, Dr Dzulkefly said Jalan Alor will be made a ‘role model for Kuala Lumpur Street Food’ that adheres to cleanliness standards and the smoking ban in food premises and hawker areas.

He said that the BeBAs walkabout programme, held for the first time, chose Jalan Alor, a tourist attraction, to provide understanding, support and compliance from the community towards this effort.

“Tonight, we took steps to approach business premises owners to ensure the success of the Clean, Smoke-Free Premises (BeBAs) campaign.

“During the walkabout, three premises also received recognition as ‘Clean and Safe’ (BeSS) premises… this programme ensures that it can be expanded to other locations such as Putrajaya, Ipoh, Penang and so on, based on the standards observed in Jalan Alor,” he said.

In another development, Dr Dzulkefly said the issue of issuing compounds and electronic payments for the Health Ministry had been raised in a post-cabinet meeting before this.

“Insya-Allah, we will follow up soon to ensure that we can implement this,” he said.