Kuantan Cafe, Hotel and Restaurant Association chairman Sin Thin Sang described the move as too extreme, saying it would burden business owners with unfair penalties and inconveniences.
Having smoking areas within these business premises would be a solution that protects the interest of all parties, he said.
“The Government proposed this without seeking a win-win solution to protect both non-smokers and smokers in our eateries.
“We have workable solutions adopted in other countries with similar open eating places and hope the government will hear us.
“If the Government will listen to our suggestions, we are willing to compromise,” Sin said at a press conference here.
In October, Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye had said smoking in all restaurants, coffeeshops and hawker centres nationwide will be banned starting next year, even in open air eateries.
Those caught smoking at prohibited areas can be fined up to RM10,000 while eateries that fail to enforce the ban may be fined RM2,500.
Sin said this was unfair to eatery operators as it was pushing the responsibility to them to stop customers from smoking.
“What if we tell customers not to smoke but they refuse to listen? The Government cannot expect us to get into fights with our customers over this,” he said.
Sin also said the Health Ministry was not tackling the smoking problem effectively as illegal cigarettes were still being sold everywhere.
“Even with the price increase of cigarettes, the number of smokers are not decreasing. They may be getting their cigarettes from illegal sources.
“Would it not be more effective to eradicate illegal cigarettes so that smokers will give up the habit? Why is the Health Ministry not issuing summonses to those smoking illegal cigarettes but holding us honest business owners liable for failing to stop someone from smoking in our shops,” he said.
Also present at the press conference were Temerloh Coffee Shopkeepers’ Association chairman Foo Kok Chuan and Lipis, Raub and Jerantut Coffee Shopkeepers’ Association president Kong Swee Pin.
They represented some 500 eatery owners in Pahang.