Malaysia smoking ban met with mixed reactions

The Jan.1 smoking-ban notice is placed in one of the open-air restaurants in Kuala Lumpur. (AN photo)
Updated 03 January 2019
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Malaysia smoking ban met with mixed reactions

  • Restaurant operators are mandated to place no-smoking signs in their premises or risk facing a fine of $726, as well as up to six months in jail

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia enforced a nationwide smoking ban on all restaurants, including public and open-air eateries on Tuesday, which has garnered mixed reactions from smokers and restaurant owners.
From the new year, both smokers and restaurant owners who do not comply with the anti-smoking law in the country may face heavy government penalties. Anyone caught smoking in eateries can be fined up to $2,500 or face up to two years in jail.
While most restaurants in Malaysia have already enforced the smoking ban, open-air eateries, coffee shops and “mamak-style” Indian restaurants, which are popular among Malaysians, are still lagging behind.
Many restaurant owners in Kuala Lumpur still allow their customers to smoke in their open-air areas.
On Tuesday, smokers could be seen huddling in parking lots, back alleys, bus and taxi stops, and even loading bay areas at shopping malls.
Restaurant owner Daljit Kumar Singh, who runs an Indian restaurant in Brickfields, told Arab News that he lauded the ban and views it as a step in the right direction. “I do not allow my customers to smoke in my restaurant,” he said. “If they want to smoke, they have to smoke outside of the restaurant,” said Singh, adding that smokers do not have the right to smoke in public, as second-hand smokers are exposed to harm.
“I have a friend who owns a bar and he also enforced a zero-smoking policy at the bar or inside the lounge,” he said. He believed the ban is not just good for health, but also good for business, as it brings in more health-conscious clientele.
However, several restaurant owners and smokers have reacted negatively towards the anti-smoking law. In the Malaysian state of Sarawak, the smoking ban has been put on hold due to lobbying from local coffeeshop groups.
One newly formed rights group that calls themselves the “defenders of smokers” group had filed a judicial review against Malaysia’s Health Ministry to overturn the ban and claimed that the ban was “against their constitutional rights,” according to local media reports.
Meanwhile, restaurant operators are mandated to place no-smoking signs in their premises or risk facing a fine of $726, as well as up to six months in jail. Restaurant owners that allow smoking at their eateries can be slapped with a fine of $1210 or a six-month jail term.
One smoker told Arab News her concerns about the ban.
“What really worries me are the legal implications of the ban because it criminalizes smoking in public,” Kuala Lumpur-based Maryam told Arab News. As a smoker, she said she tries to be mindful of others.
“Smoking is definitely not a fundamental human right but a prevalent cultural norm,” she said. “I think smoking advocates should focus their efforts on challenging the criminalization aspect of the ban.”
As a young professional, Asyraf told Arab News that the ban is a good initiative despite being a smoker himself. “I smoke a lot only when I am socializing, but I do not really smoke at home,” he said, adding that the policy may push him to quit smoking in the future.
“Some may feel something is missing when hanging out with friends, but this is just temporary. Once you get used to it, it may not be an issue anymore.”


Bollywood star Nargis Fakhri to strike a pose at Dubai yoga fest

Updated 20 January 2019
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Bollywood star Nargis Fakhri to strike a pose at Dubai yoga fest

DUBAI: Bollywood actress Nargis Fakhri is set to host the opening session of the XYoga Dubai Festival on Feb. 1, so yoga fans can expect to bend, stretch and breathe with the glamorous star herself.
Fakhri has starred in Bollywood hits such as “Rockstar” and “Main Tera Hero” and also crossed over into Hollywood in 2015 film “Spy,” in which she appeared alongside Melissa McCarthy and Jude Law.

The actress is a self-declared fitness enthusiast and will lead a session at the weekend festival alongside yoga practitioner Deepika Mehta.
“Yoga has been a big part of my life for over a decade now — it helps me stay centered, focused and positive throughout the day,” Fakhri said in a statement.
“It is not just about flexibility and fitness but also about will-power, mental strength and finding common ground with others,” she added. “As a devoted practitioner and student, I am really looking forward to learning from Deepika, who is one of the most innovative and inspirational yoga trainers. I’m also looking forward to immersing myself in the practice with yogis in Dubai.”
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So grateful for life. For friends, for family, for my hubby, for my practice, for the nourishing food I eat, my body ... Today on the flight as I was coming to Mumbai, I tried out an exercise and I gave out positivity mentally to any body who caught my eye, and it was incredible, people sensed it and returned it with so much kindness, the air hostess was so kind, the guy sitting next to me on the flight helped me with the baggage, there was this sweet girl waiting outside the airport with a bunch of roses and she gave me the biggest smile back, the taxi guy was lovely .. (but it’s not like Im always this sweet angel or anything, sometimes I can be pretty sharp n cutting , trust me!!!) But the one thing the Universe taught me is that energy is tangible, if I give out good vibes, they are sent back to me. • The last few days I’ve been maintaining a journal of all the things that I’ve been grateful for in a day, it helps me focus on the good stuff, makes me more mindful and I take less for granted. • Maybe try out this exercise of writing down 10 things that you are grateful for tomorrow and see what magic manifests. • Love you guys, happy to be in my sweet city

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Mehta is a household name in India, where she hosts a TV show called “Yoga City,” was a trainer on “The Biggest Loser” weight loss show and is the personal trainer of a bevvy of celebrities.
The opening session that she will co-host signals the start of the free-to-attend two-day festival and, according to organizers, thousands of yoga enthusiasts are expected to converge on Dubai’s Kite Beach with the aim of achieving the “total synchronization of body, mind and soul.”
The third edition of XYoga Dubai festival will offer fitness lovers the chance to try out various forms of the ancient practice, including animal yoga, vinyasa flow and acro yoga.
The festival offers mixed classes, with ladies only sessions set to take place at the XDubai Studio.
Yoga practitioners from around the world are set to host sessions at the festival, including Iranian-Canadian musician Babak Torabi, who performs alongside yoga classes across the world, and Emilie Mikulla, who has taught people the art of movement in Thailand, South Africa, San Francisco and Dubai.
For more information, visit xyogadubai.com.