Macau’s Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Alexis Tam Chon Weng, said on Friday that the city’s government was available to discuss the retention of smoking lounges inside casinos.
Mr Tam’s comments were made after it was reported that a majority on the Macau Legislative Assembly working committee asked to scrutinise the city’s revised tobacco control bill, currently supported the retention of smoking lounges on casino main floors.
“We need first to assess [the opinions of the members of the working committee],” Mr Tam (pictured) told reporters.
“We must be objective and open-minded,” added Mr Tam, who oversees smoking control policies in Macau.
The Macau government in 2015 submitted to the city’s Legislative Assembly a bill proposing a total ban on smoking inside casinos. Legislators approved the first reading of the bill in July last year.
The bill has since been under detailed review by one of the assembly’s working committee.
The committee stage is the lengthiest part of the passage of a bill in Macau and it can – based on precedent – produce significant amendments to legislation.
The bill in question includes provisions to outlaw smoking lounges on casino mass floors as well as to ban smoking in VIP rooms. It also bars the sale of tobacco-related products in casinos.
Smoking on casino main floors in Macau is currently only allowed in airport-style enclosed smoking lounges that do not contain any gaming tables or slot machines. Having a cigarette while gambling is at present still allowed in VIP rooms.
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"The [Macau] government has a lead in this subject in regards to what should be done after the [gaming] concessions expire. We will be first listening to what the government will say”
Ambrose So Shu Fai
Vice-chairman and chief executive at Macau casino operator SJM Holdings