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     FrontPage Edition: Sat 17 June 2006

Hawker centres, coffeeshops and cafes prepare for smoking ban 


Preparations Underway for Next Month¨s Smoking Ban At Food Shops And Hawker Centres
Announced by the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources and the National Environment Agency last year, the smoking ban has been extended to include hawker centres and foodshops like coffeeshops, restaurants and cafes this year.
Under this new regulation, smoking is banned within the indoor refreshment areas (IRA) of all foodshops.
However, operators of these establishments can choose to designate up to 20% of the floor area in their outdoor refreshment areas (ORA) as a smoking corner upon NEA¨s approval.
As for hawker centres, they may set aside up to 20% of the seating capacity in the ORA as a smoking corner. For hawker centres that do not have ORA, up to 10% of the seating capacity of their IRA can be designated as a smoking corner.
Smoking ban will be extended to hawker centres, coffeeshops and cafes come 1st July. To protect patrons from second-hand smoke, foodshop operators can set up smoking corners for those who want to light up. To date, close to half of the affected outlets have decided to set up smoking corners in their outdoor refreshment areas.
Smoking corners for some, others go smoke-free
Since the announcement of the ban in August last year, NEA has arranged meetings and dialogue sessions to explain implementation details to operators. In the past few months, NEA officers have been visiting operators on site to advise on the setting up of smoking corners. In addition, publicity posters have since been distributed to operators for display at their outlets to raise public awareness of the ban.
Some 7400 food outlets will be affected by the smoking ban, with around 4000 of them having ORA. More than 1600 of these outlets have since applied for smoking corners while close to 200 will be smoke-free. 75 hawker centres will also have smoking corners while 42 will go smoke-free.
Foodshop operators who wish to have their smoking corners ready by 1st July should submit their applications soon, as smoking will only be allowed in approved smoking corners once the ban comes into effect. Foodshop operators who need further assistance can contact the NEA Call Centre at 1800-CALL-NEA (1800-2255 632).
What the public can expect
All foodshops and hawker centres are required to display signage to inform patrons that smoking is prohibited within the premises. For areas designated as smoking corners, they must be clearly demarcated with visual aids such as floor markings, physical partitions or coloured tables/cloth.
NEA will work with the management of these eating places to ensure the ban is adhered to. The public can also play their part by informing the respective operators if they see smokers flouting the ban. They can also call our Call Centre to report such incidents.
There will be inspection rounds and blitzes, if necessary, to protect non-smokers from second-hand smoke in these premises.

Source: Press Release 1 Jun 2006

Related Articles:
Smoking ban in eating places starts today (1 Jul 2006)
Smoking ban to cover more public places from 1 Oct 2005

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