Tobacco-control group: smoking lounges cannot fully prevent harm

The director of Smoke-free & Healthy Life Association of Macau, Joy Choi, claimed yesterday that she does not believe smoking lounges inside local casinos can prevent second-hand smoke, according to local broadcaster TDM Radio.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a press briefing, the association director said the efficacy of a casino smoking lounge would depend on whether the original air motion systems of a property were set up to cater for smoking rooms. Otherwise, there would be technical difficulties in linking such rooms to the systems.
Near the end of last month, the second standing committee of the Legislative Assembly (AL) – the body in charge of discussing the details of a universal smoking ban bill for casinos – claimed seven of its nine members support the establishment of smoking lounges if it can be ensured that the smoke from these rooms will not spread to outside areas.
Following the latest meeting on Tuesday, the AL sub-committee president, Chan Chak Mo, told reporters that the stance of the committee members remained the same.

Support for the economy’s sake
According to Mr. Chan, the legislators supporting smoking lounges know very well that such arrangements do not 100 per cent prevent second-hand smoke, but they are worried a full smoking ban would further dampen the government’s tax revenues from the gaming sector.
The bill has been under consideration by the standing committee for nearly one year, after it passed the first reading last July.
Denying that the committee was purposely delaying submitting the bill for final reading, the legislator said on Tuesday that his committee would draft the submission to the government after one more meeting.
At present, smoking is prohibited on the mass gaming floors of local casinos, and is only permitted in smoking lounges and VIP rooms. The government-backed bill, meanwhile, proposes to ban smoking in all indoor areas of gaming venues, as well as eliminating the current smoking lounges.
On the other hand, the tobacco control group announced in the press briefing yesterday that the 8th Cross-Strait Conference on Tobacco Control would take place next Thursday and Friday, with government officials from the four cities meeting to exchange experiences on tobacco control.