KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government has decided to include the ban on smoking in all eateries, but customers seem to be cautious about alleviating, at least for the time being.
One of them, Rayner Joinus, said that he usually smoked after the meal but was not sure whether it was wise to do this today, especially because the restaurant had shown a big "no smoking" sign on the wall.
"I've heard that the fine is stiff, I do not want to take a risk, especially because there's some contradictory information about the issue." The federal government said the ban was nationally effective, but Sabah said it's not ready yet.
"However, the signs that warn us about smoking are already everywhere," he said.
A survey of restaurants here during lunch hour showed that most of them had "smoke prohibition" signs hung.
An operator of the chicken shop said she was confused because of conflicting statements from ministers.
"I decided to just hang the sign for security," she said.
A sales clerk next door had also made a sign, but said that he would not be too strict with the "No Smoking" rule for the time being.
"I'd probably tell a smoker to turn off his cigarette if other customers complain," he said.
So far, however, nobody has tried to light up since late at night.
A few other stores have not shown the signs "Do not smoke", prefer to wait and see what happens next.
"I've read news reports that Sabah has yet to decide on the smoking ban in open-air restaurants, so until the state government makes an official announcement, I'll allow patrons to keep smoking," said a shop owner.
Yesterday the deputy head minister and local government and Minister of Housing Jaujan Sambakong, and public health and public health minister Stephen Wong declared that the ban would not yet be enforced in Sabah.
Jaujan said that the cabinet of the state should discuss the matter at length before deciding whether the ban should be implemented.
Once the decision has been taken to implement the ban, the Local Government and Public Health Decree must be adapted for the purpose.
Since every amendment requires the approval of the legislative assembly of the state, it is understood at the earliest that a ban can be enforced in Sabah in April.
Sarawak does not yet implement the ban, with the cabinet of the state to quickly decide on the issue.
In the meantime, Bernama reports that the Sabah Youth Council (MBS) wants the smoking ban of the Ministry of Health to be extended to Sabah without delay.
MBS president Ahmad Farid Sainuri said that the ban would not only provide a healthy environment for children, the elderly and patients with respiratory problems, but also that Sabah would become a tourist destination at the same level as developed countries.
"The move will reduce smoking-related illnesses in government hospitals and allow tourists to enjoy a smoke-free environment," he said in a statement today.
Farid said that the council, representing more than 190,000 young people in the state, believed that the prohibition would not deny smokers their rights because they could enjoy their cloud of smoke at 3 meters from the site.
He also said that MBS also noted that smoking by the muzakarah (discussions) of the fatwa committee of the National Council for Islamic Affairs on 23 March 1995 was proclaimed haram for Muslims.