The ban against smoking at all eateries will stay despite protests from restaurant operators. (Photo: The Star)

Kuala Lumpur (VNA) – The Malaysian Government will not compromise with the smoking ban in all restaurants, food outlets and hawker stalls, Malaysian Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad told the press on November 14.

He stressed that the government’s directive to ban smoking at all eateries would stay despite protests from restaurant operators and it would take effect in January to protect public health, especially women, children and the elderly.

Earlier on November 12, more than 20,000 eatery owners under the umbrella of three associations- Malaysia-Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors General Association, Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association, and Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owners Association- organised a press conference, expressing their objections to the government’s smoking ban. They said that it would affect their business.

Malaysia has a high rate of smoking despite high taxation levied on tobacco. There are around five million smokers in Malaysia, according to the latest National Health and Morbidity Survey. Tobacco price in the country is three or four times higher than regional nations. However, smoking is still popular in open eateries.

In May, the World Health Organisation said that tobacco is killing more than 7 million people a year, around 890,000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. Half of those deaths (some 3 million people) were due to cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and stroke. -VNA