Friday, June 16, 2006

1st July.. how ah..if i eat with my smoking friends?

the smoking ban on outdoor seating /cafes/hawker centers/coffeeshops will be effective from 1st July. There will be segregation of the ciggies and non ciggies.

It is good news to those who don't smoke..but can u imagine the amout of 1st hand and 2nd hand smoke thoses smokers are gonna inheal? wah.. *black lungs* And what happens if your partners/parents/spouses/friends are smokers? One side has to give way rite? So either smokers don't smoke when eating..or else the rest has to suffer :P


Smoking ban extended to food outlets from 1 July

The smoking ban is going to be extended to over 7,000 food outlets like cafes, coffee shops and hawker centres nation-wide from 1 July.

The move comes after a similar ban at bus shelters and interchanges, public pools and toilets, community clubs and open-air stadiums in October last year.

Some establishments are taking the ban in their stride while others, like coffeeshops, are bracing for a drop in business of up to 30 percent initially.

Under the new rules, if the food outlets have outdoor seating, 20 percent of the space can be marked as a smoking corner.

Hawker centres without outdoor areas can designate 10 percent of their seating capacity as a smoking corner.

"It's good to separate them, non-smokers will feel at ease," said a customer.

"I think it's good. I think smokers should always go to one corner and not invade my air space," said another.

"For me, it's a problem because I am a smoker. For me, when I eat, I smoke. If I have to go to the 20 percent area, it's very.....problematic," said a smoker.

Businesses also have some concerns.

The ban kicks in at the height of World Cup fever, and food outlets are expecting a drop in business.

But they hope things will stabilise eventually.

Mr Hong Poh Hin, chairman of the Foochow Coffee Restaurant & Bar Merchants Association, said: "Actually, they were quite worried initially, felt that business will definitely be affected because most of the coffeeshop customers, especially in housing estates, are retirees. They hang out for a long time and they are smokers. So if you restrict to just a few tables, there may not be enough space to accommodate all these customers."

But will the marking out of smoking corners prevents the problem of second-hand smoke blowing over, which was one of the main reasons for the ban?

The National Environment Agency acknowledges that that may be difficult but says that the idea is to give a choice.

Mr Khoo Seow Poh, NEA's director-general of public health, said: "It's very much a demarcation area where smokers can smoke with less impact on other customers."

So, what happens if you are caught flouting the rules?

For smokers, there will be a fine of $200.

For managers of food outlets, there will be an initial fine of $200 and $500 for a subsequent offence.

For a start, NEA says it does not plan to increase enforcement activity.

However, if food shop operators encounter problems with difficult customers, they can call the agency for help, which will subsequently conduct inspection blitzes, if necessary.

About 4,000 food outlets currently have outdoor seating areas.

About half of them have already applied for smoking corners while about 200 have chosen to go smoke-free.

The smoking ban will be extended to entertainment outlets like pubs, clubs and karaoke lounges in July next year. - CNA

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