Malaysia has no plans to ban cigarettes, according to a story in The Malay Mail quoting the Deputy Health Minister Dr. Lee Boon Chye.

He was responding to questions about why the government did not ban cigarettes outright if it were serious about curbing smoking.

Lee challenged those posing the question to name a country that had banned cigarettes.

“Even the countries which practice dictatorship and communism could not ban cigarettes,” he said.

“We as a country that practices democracy will not ban cigarettes as we respect the rights of the smokers.

“However, at the same time, we also respect the rights of the non-smokers, that’s why we imposed the smoking ban instead of the cigarette ban,” he told reporters in Taiping.

Lee said that the country’s smoking ban, which had been extended this year to take in outdoor eating areas, was not about revenue.

And he said the regulation was still less strict than that in countries such as Singapore, which permitted smoking only in designated zones.

The Health Ministry banned smoking at all restaurants including within their open-air areas from January 1 but is not penalizing offenders for a six-month grace period.

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