BUTTERWORTH: Penang plans to gazette the entire state as a smoke-free area in the next five years, health official Dr Afif Bahardin said on Thursday (Jan 17).
This initiative will be implemented through the Smoke-Free Penang (Penbar) programme, which aims to protect people from the dangers of cigarette smoke, said the state's health, agriculture and agro-based industry and rural development committee chairman.
"The state government will work with the health department to ensure that this plan is implemented successfully and we will organise more public awareness programmes on the smoking ban in public areas and recreational parks," said Dr Afif at a press conference.
The conference was held in collaboration with the Nasi Kandar Pelita Restaurant chain, which announced the cessation of cigarette sales at all its outlets from Wednesday.
According to Dr Afif, efforts towards Penbar began with the gazetting of six public recreational parks in the state as non-smoking areas in 2012.
The attractions gazetted were Air Itam Dam, Municipal Park, Botanical Garden, Teluk Bahang Dam, Ampang Jajar Town Park and Mengkuang Dam.
Georgetown World Heritage Site was similarly gazetted in July 2015.
Dr Afif acknowledged that there were constraints in attempting to implement the comprehensive ban and said the committee was looking for ways to overcome the problems.
"The smoking ban throughout Penang should first take into account several factors including designation of special areas for smoking and we will have discussions to resolve issues," he said.
Malaysia implemented a nation-wide smoking ban at all food establishments on Jan 1 with the aim to protect the public from exposure to ciagrette smoke.
Under the new rules, anyone found guilty of smoking in banned areas can be fined up to RM10,000 (US$2,450) or jailed up to two years.
Owners of food establishments who fail to display "no smoking" signs can be fined up to RM3,000 or jailed up to one year.