In a move to turn Batu Ferringhi into a smoke-free zone has awakened a rage from business operators in Penang, the most popular tourism belt. The smoke-free zone would begin at the Penang Floating Mosque and end at Bayview Beach Resort along Jalan Batu Ferringhi.
State health committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin said that "Smokers are not allowed to take a puff at non-designated smoking areas in hotels, resorts, restaurants, sports and recreation centres, relaxation centres, spas and even on the beach.”
"There will be several designated areas for smokers to take a puff and most of the hotels do not allow smoking in the rooms too.
He added "We will send an application to the Health Ministry to gazette Batu Ferringhi as a smoke-free zone, " he said, adding that the process would take between three to four months.
Dr Afif also said that the offenders would be issued with a compound between RM250 and RM500 (S$82 and S$165) and those who fail to pay their compounds are said to brought to the court and fined a maximum of RM10,000, or face up to two years in prison if found guilty. Also, designated smoke-free areas will be there in all the five districts in Penang.
“After Batu Ferringhi, next will be Bayan Baru and Balik Pulau. As for the mainland, Bandar Sunway in Seberang Jaya, Bertam and Nibong Tebal will also be gazetted as smoke-free zones soon”, He said after launching the Batu Ferringhi tourism the area as a smoke-free zone at SJK (C) Pai Chai in Jalan Batu Ferringhi on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Penang Health Department director Dr Asmayani Khalib said passive smokers were at risk of diseases such as bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, ear infections and cancer.
she said "According to research, the treatment cost for illnesses due to smoking exceeds RM3bil a year. The treatment cost is fully borne by the government, "
Food operator K. Ratha, 58, said she was worried that her business might be badly affected once the law was gazetted. "We have customers who smoke including women. They like to take a puff while chilling along the beach after their meals, " she said, adding that she has been in the business for 20 years.
A French tourist Giulia Raio, the 36-year-old who owns a bakery in France said although it was a good initiative, she did not fully agree to it and is strictly against the implementation "If Batu Ferringhi is made a smoke-free area, many tourists will feel their freedom is restricted and they may avoid coming here, "
On interviewing a British visitor, he, however, welcomed the initiative and lauded the government for doing a great job by introducing this law "All my friends in England gave up smoking as it is harmful to our health, " she said.
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