am also said that the current decline in gross gaming revenues would not affect the government’s determination to implement a full smoking ban in all casinos and slot machines parlors.
However, Tam admitted that as of now he was unable to give a timetable for when the blanket ban on smoking in gaming venues will be in place as the government needed to wait for an official report by the Health Bureau (SSM) on the city’s smoking control situation first. The report is slated to be announced in January 2015.
Tam made the remarks to the media after a closed-door meeting with representatives of the Macau Federation of Trade Unions (commonly known as Gung Luen) including lawmakers Ella Lei Cheng I, Kwan Tsui Hang and Lam Heong Sang.
The representatives had asked for the meeting with Tam at government headquarters to express their views on the government’s current smoking control measures and to appeal for a blanket smoking ban at all indoor workplaces including gaming venues.
Health Bureau Acting Director Cheang Seng Ip also attended the meeting.
Asked by reporters about the government’s determination on implementing a full smoking ban, Tam said that the health of residents was its priority.
“For the government, the health of all residents is our main priority and that’s without a doubt,” Tam said.
Further queried by reporters as to whether the gaming industry’s consecutive declines in gross revenue over the past few months would become an obstacle to implementing a blanket ban on smoking in the city’s gaming halls, Tam said that “it definitely will not be an obstacle.”
“The health of gaming employees will not be comprised by the drop in gaming revenues… it won’t,” Tam insisted.
Asked by reporters as to when the government will implement a full smoking ban in all casinos and slot-machine parlors, the new policy secretary said that the government will reveal more concrete measures about how to further protect residents’ health when Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On presents his first policy address of this new term in March 2015.
Tam also said that the government would first study the Health Bureau’s report, which includes the situation of the government’s smoking control measures in casinos and slot machine parlors and collect public opinion on how to improve the measures.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, Lei said she hoped that the government will keep its promise to publish the report in January 2015 and announce concrete measures for a full smoking ban in all gaming venues.
She also said that gaming employees still suffered from the effects of second-hand smoke after the government in 2013 partially banned smoking in casinos and slot-machine parlors.
Since October 6, a full smoking ban has been implemented in mass gaming areas while gamblers are still allowed to smoke in VIP gaming rooms.
“Current smoking control measures implemented in gaming venues have failed to protect the health of gaming employees…from [Thursday] January 1 a blanket smoking ban will be in force in all the city’s indoor workplaces including bars and saunas but VIP gaming areas will still be exempt. That is unfair to gaming employees,” she said, adding that casino visitors should be completely banned from smoking.
“I hope that the government will really come up with concrete measures to implement a blanket smoking ban in all gaming venues. We don’t want any more rhetoric,” she said.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, Cheang said that there will be enough inspectors to monitor indoor workplaces such as bars and saunas where the blanket smoking ban will be in effect from the 1st December 2015.