No logic in RM10k smoking fine
Published on: Friday, January 11, 2019
By: Mail Mathew

KOTA KINABALU: Parti Kerjasama Anak Negeri (PKAN) fully supports the smoking ban implemented by the government, but disagrees with the RM10,000 fine which it finds unreasonable.

Deputy President Milkusin Abdillah Sulai said it is ironic that other heavier offences carry a lesser punishment.

“How rational is it to fine RM10,000 for smoking at the wrong place while for drug offences it is only RM2,000.

“There are even cases where individuals were involved in corruption but were fined less than RM2,000. But smokers face heavier punishment,” he said.

Milkusin said that the lower income community or youths who are not living in the urban areas and not aware of this new law will have the tendency of going against it.

“If the Health Ministry or Local Authorities enforce the RM10,000 fine, offenders may not be able to pay this huge fine and will probably be jailed because they do not carry such amount with them,” he added.

He also said such fine will not be able to stop or curb the smoking habit from spreading but it will criminalise the young offenders that are placed in jail as if they are real criminals which is concerning.

Milkusin said this clearly is unbalanced as small offences have heavier punishment whereas bigger crimes have lesser.

He urged the State Government to carry out the smoking ban but abolish the RM10,000 fine as it is too heavy for smokers and change it to at least RM100 which is suffice in controlling the issue.

He proposed that policy makers Sabah to formulate an innovative method to punish  offenders who could not pay their fine such as making them carry out community work.

Meanwhile, Sabah People’s Rights Association President Lee Pun Yee opined that the State Government should allow eateries to have a dedicated smoking zone within the premises to avoid disputes between customers and restaurateurs.

He said the majority of restaurateurs have agreed on the implementation of the anti-smoking campaign during a survey conducted by the association but  added that it is a normal routine for most customers to smoke while chatting after having their meals.

“Should a restaurant staff warn a customer not to smoke, then the individual may be disappointed and angry with the possibility of no longer returning to the restaurant.

“However, if customers remain stubborn which led them to be compounded by the authorities, then restaurant owners will also receive the same punishment,” he said in a statement released, here, Thursday.

According to Lee, the association has mostly agreed on the State Government’s decision but the enforcement mechanism should be properly justified to ensure that the smoking ban can be implemented more effectively.

He added that the anti-smoking campaign posters found at eateries do not pose clear objectives to the general public.

“The State Government should also combat the sales of smuggled cigarettes and cigars commonly found around Kota Kinabalu,” he said.

Lee hopes that the State Government would take a liberal approach on the anti-smoking campaign in order not to undermine the resources of stakeholders as well as not negatively affecting public health at the same time.

On Wednesday, the State Cabinet decided to impose the smoking ban on eateries under the Control of Tobacco Product (Amendment) Regulations 2018 effectively on Feb 1.

State Health and People’s Wellbeing Minister Datuk Stephen Wong Tien Fatt said the enforcement would only begin next month to allow agencies involved and eatery premise owners to prepare.

The ministry along with Local Government and Housing Ministry and City Hall will start implementing educational enforcement up to June 30.

The regulation will be fully enforced from July 1 onwards.

Anyone caught breaching the said regulation can be fined RM10,000 or jailed to a period of not more than two years.

Any eatery premise owners caught breaching the regulation can be fined not exceeding RM3,000 or jailed for a period not exceeding six months.  - Mail Mathew


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