Smoking ban at eateries a discrimination to smokers, says Pakatan MP

24 Oct 2019 / 20:00 H.

PETALING JAYA: A Pakatan Harapan lawmaker has lambasted the Health Ministry over its move to ban smoking at eateries earlier this year, saying it is a discrimination against smokers in the country.

Kapar MP Datuk Abdullah Sani Abdul Hamid argued that while smoking might be unhealthy to one’s self, the government should respect the rights of smokers too.

“We must not limit the rights to freedom of Malaysians. At least allocate a smoking corner in all restaurants. But no, you decide to put a three-metre-radius outside of eateries for smoking.

“I pity those who smoke. They have to walk so far away, it’s like they are third-class refugees. I hope we don’t discriminate all the smokers and be rationale about things,” he said when debating the 2020 Budget in the Dewan Rakyat, here, yesterday.

“I am fighting here today for the rights and freedom of smokers who are crying over their confiscated rights,” he added, to the amusement of those in the house.

The smoking ban at all eateries nationwide was implemented beginning Jan 1 this year, which saw certain quarters criticising the move, while others commended the decision as forward-thinking.

The ministry, however, has given the public a one year grace period to raise awareness and knowledge about the dangers of smoking, before summonses will be issued starting next year.

Abdullah Sani said it was bemusing that the Health Ministry decided to implement such a policy when even hotels in other countries provide a smoking room or corner for smokers.

He cited Mecca and Madinah in Saudi Arabia, where smoking is allowed in hotels, and urged the government to review its policy.

“This is an urgent need (for smokers). I call on the ministry to provide smokers a space to smoke, just like in Parliament,” he added

In addition to the ban on smoking in eateries, the PH-man criticised the motion to regulate vape and e-cigarettes, pointing out that they are an efficient medium for smokers to cut down or stop smoking.

“Moreover, the industry will also help generate economy and provide job opportunities to the youth, with over 5,000 Malaysians currently involved in the business,” he said.

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