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Seven fail in final bid to overturn smoking ban at eateries

PUTRAJAYA: Seven men have lost their final bid to challenge the smoking ban imposed by the Health Ministry at all eateries four years ago.

The Federal Court today dismissed their leave application to challenge the Court of Appeal’s decision last year to uphold the regulation.

The seven are Mohd Hanizam Yunus, 56, Zulkifli Mohamad, 61, Mohd Laisani Dollah, 50, Mohd Sufian Awaludin, 39, Ridzuan Muhammad Noor, 57, Mohd Yazid Mohd Yunus, 52, and Yuri Azhar Abdollah, 44.

Counsel Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla, who represented all seven, confirmed the Federal Court’s decision when contacted.

On Nov 23 last year, the appellate court stated that smoking in public places is not a fundamental right that should be protected under the Federal Constitution.

The health minister, it said, is empowered under the law to impose restrictions on smoking such as where or when it is prohibited.

The court also said that the ban did not infringe Article 8 (right to equality) of the Federal Constitution as it applies to all persons.

On Oct 29, 2019, then High Court Judge Datuk Seri Mariana Yahya (now Court of Appeal judge) dismissed the judicial review application by the men to get a certiorari order to quash the ban on smoking at eateries.

In their judicial review filed on Dec 31, 2018, naming the Health Ministry as respondent, the men, who had set up a society called Persatuan Pertahankan Perokok (PHP), also sought a declaration that the ministry’s decision was unconstitutional.

They claimed that smokers and non-smokers have equal rights to visit and spend their time at food premises for as long as they wished and that the government had not provided adequate facilities such as smoking areas or included provisions under the smoking ban for entrepreneurs to prepare their own non-smoking areas.

The Health Ministry imposed the ban on Jan 1, 2019.

Offenders will be slapped with a RM250 compound for the first and second offences, and the amount will be increased to RM350 for a third offence.

Then Health Ministry director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said food and beverage outlets that allowed patrons to light up would also be slapped with the same compound amount.

Dr Noor Hisham had said that the extension of the smoking ban to eateries was done under Regulation 11 (1) (d) of the Tobacco Control Regulation (PPKHT) Regulations 2004 (amended) 2018.

Under Regulation 12 of PPKHT 2004, he added that eatery owners must also ensure that their premises are completely smoke-free.

They are also forbidden from providing amenities for smokers, including ashtrays or shisha services.

Source: New Straits Times

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