‘War on smoking’ bill seeks Macau Legislative Assembly approval

The amendments to the law to apply the full smoking ban inside casinos have been sent to the Legislative Assembly (AL).

A universal smoking ban inside casinos, a steep increase in taxes on tobacco products, the prohibition of electronic cigarettes sales and harsher penalties are all part of the amendments proposed by the government and sent for the approval of the Legislative Assembly (AL). To date, since the handover the AL has never rejected a proposal from the Executive although amendments have been made following discussion.
The new policy of the government is a true ‘war on smoking’, as the priority of the government led by Fernando Chui Sai On is the health of Macau residents. To win this war, the government accepts that some damage may be caused to the economy, including destroying jobs in the region.
“We accept that this measure can affect the economy and the jobs of some people. But our duty is to protect the health of the residents”, Leong Heng Teng said. “However, the government will follow the impact of the changes to the law and will continue to promote economic development”, he added.
The same opinion was shared by the Director of the Health Bureau, Lei Chin Ion, during the press conference. “Predictions tell us that the economy will be hit by these measures. But there are different predictions. We are concerned with public health and without health, there is no economy at all”, he said.

Universal smoking ban
A full smoking ban in casinos is one of the most controversial amendments proposed by the government. Last year, gaming operators had to invest in smoking lounges to enable smoking inside gaming areas. However, for the new law to be approved, the smoking lounges will be prohibited. The six gaming concessionaires recently released the results of a survey in which the majority of its employees allegedly supported smoking in casinos.
“The new changes will introduce a full smoking ban in casinos. The current exception for casinos is going to be removed. We believe this is the best way to control the effects of tobacco [smoke] on the health of the people”, Executive Council spokesperson Leong Heng Teng said of the decision.
“The government has decided to implement these measures step by step. The goal was always to increase the scope of the law. If these amendments are approved, the operators will have to apply it”, he added.
At the same time, the spokesperson for the Executive Council announced that the team to conduct inspections regarding smoking in non-smoking areas is going to be increased from 40 members to 60.
Concerning the amount of fines, infraction of the smoking law will range from MOP1,500 to MOP200,000, while at the moment fines range from MOP400 to MOP100,000.