Newly elected legislator, Leong Sun Iok, from the Macau Federation of Trade Unions requested the government on Friday to appoint permanent inspectors in casinos to prevent infringements of the smoking law.
During the AL interpellation period, legislator Leong criticised Macau casinos, stating that the properties do everything possible to get around the smoking law enforced in 2012, with the law having gradually expanded.
The former croupier added that since smoking lounges were created in 2014, casinos have “found many methods to go around the law […] and allow customers to smoke”.
The new AL member gave as an example of misconduct, cases in which the necessary signs are not affixed in areas where smoking is not allowed, smoking areas that have been altered, as well as cases where casinos have “deceived customers”, stating that it was permissible to smoke in non-smoking areas, and even prevented their workers from telling customers that smoking was prohibited in those areas”.
“Casinos violate the law at will, and the workers can no longer tolerate it,” he criticized.
24/7 smoke control
Leong said that “tobacco control in casinos has not achieved satisfactory results” and regretted that smoking rooms continue to be allowed, contrary to what had previously been announced by the government, which intended to ban tobacco entirely in these spaces.
To counter “the risks of smoking” for casino workers, he suggested that the government should “simplify law enforcement procedures by inspectors” and “mobilize them to stay in casinos 24 hours a day”.
The Tobacco Prevention and Control Law was enforced in 2012, being expanded to cover bars, dance halls, saunas and massage establishments in 2015.
Casinos were covered from January 1 of 2013, but only partially, since the six gaming operators were allowed to create specific smoking areas, which could not be more than 50 per cent of the total area for the public.
In October 2014, ‘smoking areas’ were replaced by closed smoking lounges with a negative pressure system and independent ventilation, with smoking being prohibited in the mass gaming areas of the casinos and permitted only in some areas of VIP rooms.
In the summer of 2015, a bill was widely passed totally prohibiting smoking in casinos, but the government backed down on the initial promise of ‘zero tolerance’.