Smoking civil servants in Penang to receive free nicotine treatment, 13/09/09

GEORGE TOWN: Civil servants who smoke are eligible to receive free nicotine treatment provided by the state government in a move to turn Penang into a smoke-free state.

State Health, Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said he hoped to encourage people to quit smoking by starting with civil servants.

“It will be an abuse of human rights if we were to hire only non-smokers as civil servants. To make Penang a smoke-free state, we have to put more effort in encouraging the people to stop smoking.

“Our special committee have approved the plan for all advertisement billboard in Penang to bear the slogan ‘No Plastic Day’ and ‘Penang Smoke-Free’.

“We are in the midst of discussion with the Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) to materialise the plan,” he said when contacted Sunday.

On the state’s effort to gazette certain recreational areas as non-smoking zone, Phee said the state was currently waiting for approval from the Health Ministry on the proposed list.

It was reported in July that the state was considering gazetting part of the Gurney Drive promenade as a smoke-free zone to create a greener environment for Penangites and tourists.

Other recreational spots which Phee had proposed earlier were Penang Hill, Penang Botanic Gardens, Mengkuang Dam, Teluk Bahang Dam, Penang National Park in Pantai Acheh, Bukit Panchor State Park, Hutan Lipur Bukit Penara in Balik Pulau, Hutan Lipur Air Itam Dalam in Sungai Dua, Hutan Lipur Malindo in Teluk Bahang, Hutan Lipur Relau and Hutan Lipur Bukit Mertajam.

“We are also looking at restaurants since cleanliness is very important to attract tourists in visiting our restaurants.

“Last week, two Chinese restaurants were closed down and only allowed to reopen after complying with the cleanliness rules within 14 days,” he said.

Phee said a lot of people at the ferry terminal still ignored the no-smoking signs put up and smoke while waiting for the ferry to arrive.

“We are enforcing strict regulation at the terminal and our enforcement officers will conduct checks from time to time to ensure the smoking ban is not flouted,” he said.

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