PORT DICKSON: Smokers who still light up at eateries better beware as the authorities have decided to step up enforcement at these public areas to ensure total compliance, said Khairy Jamaluddin.

The Health Minister said this was necessary as smokers were still flouting the law as these establishments were strictly no-smoking zones.

“I have asked the ministry’s inspectorate and legal sector to carry out more enforcement.

“We may also ask other government agencies for help as there are many eateries around,” he added.

Khairy expressed regret that some were still lighting up despite signs put up against this habit at eateries.

He said that in other nations people would readily adhered to such rules and not wait till they were slapped with fines.

“We can carry out more enforcement and issue more fines but until when are we going to do this?

“We are not an uncivilised nation that will only adhere to rules when we see an enforcement officer,” he said.Statistics from the 2019 National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) alarmingly revealed that one in two of the participants surveyed (50%) reported being exposed to second-hand smoke in non air-conditioned eateries and restaurants.

According to the survey, more than 27,200 of Malaysian deaths annually are related to smoking.

Malaysia had introduced a smoking ban in all eateries and restaurants nationwide effective Jan 1, 2019.

Last week, Khairy said cancer was among the leading causes of death in private hospitals, at 34.95%, and the fourth in hospitals under the Health Ministry, at 11.56%, with tobacco use being one of the main factors causing the disease.