PETALING JAYA: The proposed two-year grace period for eateries to ban smoking is too long, said a tobacco control consultant.
Universiti Putra Malaysia Tobacco Control's Prof Dr Lekhraj Rampal said a six-month grace period should be adequate.
"More than that is too much. When dealing with harmful products, we don't talk two years," he said in response to the Malaysia-Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors' General Association president Ho Su Mong's proposal to the Health Ministry.
On Saturday, The Star front-paged a report on the Health Ministry's plan to ban smoking at parks and eateries nationwide, which would soon include open-air premises and those without air-conditioning.
The association proposed the setting aside of a 40 per cent designated smoking area and a two-year grace period before the "no smoking" ruling was imposed.
It also called for shops with 10 tables or less to be exempted.
Dr Lekhraj said the 40 per cent designated smoking area was not a good proposal because there was no assurance that the smoke would not travel to non-smokers.
"The total ban should not be delayed because smoking could cause cancer, heart problems and other medical issues.
"The association must ask itself if it is willing to pay for all the treatments," he said. "Currently, the Government is paying for it and it involves taxpayers' money."
Dr Lekhraj said the ministry's latest plan was much needed because "many non-smokers do not know how to tell off smokers when the smoke bothers them".
Those who want to quit smoking were affected by the smoke too and sometimes postponed their plan, he said.
The Government should enforce the ban as Malaysia was a signatory to the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
"This has been talked about for some time now," Dr Lekhraj said, adding that cigarettes sold at cashier counters should also be banned because it was a form of advertising and such an environment would not encourage people to quit smoking.