Macau government responds to criticism of casino smoking ban

It said it had yet to make a final decision on its future policy on tobacco smoking at gambling facilities in more than 30 cities, while rejecting claims that it plans to bow to pressure from casino operators and maintain a smoker-friendly lounge.

The rejection by Fernando Cui Sion, the former CEO of the Portuguese residence, comes as the tobacco control bureau considers new standards for airport-style smoking lounges recently proposed by six licensed casino operators, including giant SJM Holdings Limited, Galaxy Entertainment Group and Las Vegas Sands Corporation, according to a report by local television and radio broadcaster Teledipusao de Macao.

“I’m here at this stage to present my final plan,” Cui told the broadcaster. “There have been many opinions that have been heard from both inside and outside the government, but of course we will consolidate all opinions and we will not kneel down to any particular area because our priority is in the interest of our people and this is our responsibility.”

The city’s tobacco control office continues to analyze gambling operators’ proposals, which raise standards for existing public market smoking lounges and he said he has been unable to offer any kind of timeline for when casino-wide smoking will take effect.

Chui has promised to enforce a “zero tolerance” policy for criminals, while also accusing the 60-year-old of backtracking on his earlier advocacy of a blanket ban on smoking in casinos in the residence.

Chloe Chao of the New Macau Game Workers’ Rights Association told the broadcaster, “I think the government failed to make that promise and gave in to pressure from game operators.”

The New Macau Game Workers’ Rights Association recently surveyed 1,900 casino employees and reportedly found that about 90% said they were against maintaining the current smoking lounge. To further stress, he delivered a petition Tuesday asking the government to designate secondhand smoke as a workplace risk and urged the government to ban smoking in casinos altogether.

Macau’s minister of society and culture is said to have defended the operator’s proposal to maintain the current public market smoking lounges while implementing these facilities in the current smoker-friendly VIP area.


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