Debate to begin on smoking bill

Macau’s Legislative Assembly is set to begin debating and vote on a bill that would see smoking fully banned from casinos and the removal of smoking lounges currently in place.

The vote will be postponed to another day if lawmakers can not come to a conclusion by the end of the day.

Should the ban go ahead, which will also see smoking banned for VIPs, it will likely be implemented early next year.

The government has encountered opposition from operators and junkets who claim the ban will severely damage their businesses which have already taken a hit since China launched its anti-graft campaign. Analysts also cite the ban as potentially decreasing mass and VIP revenues by 10 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

The government appears resolute in passing the bill even as one study commissioned by Macau’s operators shows 66 percent of casino workers support the retention of smoking lounges. 

But another survey carried out in May by the University of Macau found 58 percent of casino workers surveyed were against smoking in casinos.

The University of Macau’s Faculty of Health Sciences on Wednesday organized a workshop to highlight the effects of passive smoking on public health.

Prof Takefumi Yoshimura, a professor emeritus from the University of Occupational and Environmental Health in Japan, said that simply dividing sections was not enough to control the spread of smoke and prevent it from damaging the health of non-smokers.