Sabah Enforces Smoking Ban At Eateries From Feb 1 – Health Minister

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will prohibit smoking at eateries in the state beginning Feb 1.

State Health and People’s Wellbeing Minister Datuk Stephen Wong Tien Fatt said the decision to do so was taken at Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.

This would give time to all agencies and eateries to make the necessary preparations to implement the ban, he said.

Enforcement would be implemented fully only on July 1, he told a press conference Wednesday.

He said that up to June 30, the ministry and the State Local Government and Housing Ministry would carry out an awareness programme.

The Federal Government imposed the ban on smoking at eateries on Jan 1 after announcing the prohibition in October last year. Sabah and Sarawak put the ban on hold.

Wong said although there was an announcement on the amended gazette at the end of last year, the Sabah government did not receive the written notice, thus causing confusion on the enforcement of the ruling in the state.

As such, the state government decided to postpone the imposition of the ban until it was discussed at the meeting of the state Cabinet, he said.

Wong said the state government was sensitive to the health of the people in the state and fully supported the effort of the federal government.

The state government, in principle, supported the imposition of the ban on smoking in eateries, whether they are air-conditioned or open, he said.

Wong said the state government had imposed 23 smoking restrictions previously, including a voluntary ban at eateries.

He said a check around this city showed that many eateries had started putting up notices against smoking and this indicated that they welcomed the forthcoming ban.

He expressed confidence that the smoking ban would not jeopardise the arrival of tourists to the state because similar prohibitions had been imposed in several countries including Singapore.

Wong said the smoking ban in the state also covered the ‘sigup kirai’ leaf cigarette favoured by the Kadazandusun and Murut communities.

Meanwhile, Sabah Health Department director Datuk Dr Christina Rundi said the department had 747 health enforcement officers state-wide to enforce the smoking ban at eateries.