When enforcement of the smoking ban comes into effect next year, eatery operators may have quite a bit of issues to worry about.
Among their concerns are a decline in business and being slapped with summonses due to stubborn smokers.
While many said that the ban is much welcome, many also agreed that smoking has been a part of our culture for so long that removing it completely will be a challenge in such a short period of time.
On top of that, they also worry that full cooperation with the authorities may be futile as they will be penalised anyway if stubborn customers continue to smoke at their eatery.
According to Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma) president Datuk Jawahar Ali Taib Khan, “It is not easy to change a bad habit which the people have grown up with. It is not easy to change a culture. We cannot keep giving the excuse that people cannot be changed. Some of my members said there should be designated places but that is not a very practical idea.”
He added that this was because most restaurants are by the roadside or inside malls, which would simply make designated smoking areas useless.
“We just have to comply with the ban come January 2020 and it is time, as second-hand smoke is bad for our children. Yes, business will probably dwindle in the first few months, but I am sure over time it will pick up. This is the norm in instilling any good habit. People will oppose at first but they will adhere to it if the rule is fully enforced. I only do not agree if operators are also fined if patrons continue to smoke although we have advised them not to. Furthermore, 25% of my members have already stopped selling cigarettes at their eateries, ” said Jawahar, who owns 16 restaurants in the Klang Valley.
Malaysia-Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors Association head Datuk Ho Su Mong there was a lot more left to be done before the smoking ban is fully enforced.
“In Singapore, we have the yellow boxes drawn out for smokers and in Japan, the education campaign on the public is very well done. We should emulate that before we go full force and clamp down on smokers fully. Also, as we have many non-air-conditioned eateries, this also posed a problem for us. There should be more stages before the law is fully enforced in Malaysia. I am in full support of the law but I think there should be more educational stages. Sometimes, the smokers are not at the right distance and I am told that in such cases, not only the smokers would be fined but we too will get a summons, ” said Ho.
Meanwhile, Original Penang Kayu Nasi Kandar managing director Burhan Mohamed, found no problems with the rule enforcement.
“Almost 95% of our customers adhere to the non-smoking regulation. The remaining 5% seem to be a bit stubborn but I do not think that is going to be a major problem for us. The sales of cigarettes at my restaurants have also dropped, but our profits are not really affected, ” he said.
What are your thoughts on this?
By: Celestine Foo