The revision of law 5/2011, which approved the smoking prevention and control bill, is still pending and, though a full smoking ban in casinos was the initial plan of the Macau government, it may not actually happen after all.
In mid-2015, the Macau government submitted to the legislative assembly a proposal for the revision of law 5/2011, and the first reading of the bill, already approved by the city legislators, contemplated a full smoking ban for casinos.
Fearing that the revision might jeopardise the recovery of the gaming industry, the gaming concessionaires and sub-concessionaires recently submitted to the Macau government a study, conducted by the Macau University and the Hong Kong Polytechnic Institute, which reported that the majority of the gaming workers surveyed accepted or supported the creation of smoking lounges. The major gaming actors further submitted a proposal regarding the improvement of the technical specifications of the smoking lounges.
Hearing about the study, the local authorities immediately conveyed, via the Health Bureau, that the Macau government was considering retaining smoking lounges in casinos, provided that they were physically independent of the remaining premises, technically enhanced and free from gaming tables or slot machines.
VIP rooms would also be targeted by the new rules and, therefore, smoking in high-rolling rooms would also be confined to gaming-free lounges. The installation of the smoking lounges (for both mass areas and VIP rooms) would be subject to the approval the Health Bureau.
The second reading of the bill for the revision of the smoking law is being prepared by the Macau government. It is expected to be submitted to the legislative assembly within the coming months.
According to the Health Bureau, this is not the end of the story for the smoking bill and it is viewed as another step towards the intended full smoking ban.
|João Nuno Riquito and Bruno Almeida|