Around 68.7 per cent of 1,981 survey respondents expressed their desire to work in smoking-free casinos, the Macau Gaming Enterprises Staff Association of the Federation of Trade Unions has revealed.
The survey results also show that 29.43 per cent of gaming workers support the setting up of smoking lounges, while 60.98 per cent noted cases of casinos violating smoking regulations.
Choi Kam Fu, the director-general of the association, said the group will maintain its stance of pursuing a full smoking ban in gaming venues, but refrained from commenting on the government’s likely U-turn in its stance towards setting up smoking lounges.
“Certainly the government has its many considerations,” remarked Mr. Choi after the meeting with the Health Bureau and the Tobacco Control Office on Friday. “Whether it [the government] is U-turning, frankly speaking, we can’t comment.”
Choi echoed that the government needs to consider many aspects and opinions of different parties when drafting the bill.
The MSAR Government announced that it is planning to alter the drafted bill proposing a full smoking ban in casinos, to allow the establishment of smoking lounges, following the latest results of a survey conducted by the University of Macau (UM), commissioned by the six local gaming operators, that was released last month.
The survey concluded that 60 per cent of the 14,301 gaming and non-gaming employees interviewed agree with ‘solutions that allow smoking lounges’ in casinos.
The New Macau Gaming Professionals Association, meanwhile, gathered a total of 503 signatures on Thursday and Friday, to condemn the Health Bureau for supporting the proposal commissioned by the gaming operators.
Please leave a message
The association director-general revealed that many people failed to reach the hotline for the Tobacco Control Office when smoking violations occurred.
“Very often many were asked to leave a message or call during working hours [when they dialed the hotline],” Mr. Choi said, noting that violations usually appeared after midnight or during holidays.
According to the Office’s official website, the working hours of the office are from 9am to 1pm and 2:30 pm to 5:45 pm during weekdays.
The survey conducted by the association also shows that 61.59 per cent of respondents were unsatisfied with the government’s performance in regards to enforcing the smoking law.
Meanwhile, Mr. Choi disclosed cases, which were also confirmed by the Office, of casinos being informed in advance when inspectors visited casinos for supposedly surprise inspections.
“We have members working as security guards who told us that their company already has a policy requesting them to inform the central department when they see inspectors at the entrance,” revealed Mr. Choi.
Too close to smoking lounge
The close proximity of gaming tables to smoking lounges was another issue discussed at Friday’s meeting.
Mr. Choi said the Health Bureau agreed with the suggestion to move tables further away from the smoking lounges in the period before the launch of the potential full smoking ban, but added that the suggestion will be made again to relative departments that have the authority to make the changes happen.
In the course of the smoking ban amendment, the association commented that it is disappointed with the government for not being able to disclose a timetable for the revision of the law.
“They [The government] always talk about reviewing […] Smoking has been gradually under control [in casinos] since the smoking regulations were launched in 2012 […] it is time to create smoking-free working environments [for gaming workers],” concluded Mr. Choi.
higher standard smoking lounges can be achieved
CEO and Executive Director of Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM), Ambrose So, stated that the local gaming operators are able to meet the standard requirements made by the city’s Health Bureau when setting up smoking lounge in casinos. According to local Chinese newspaper Macao Daily, the SJM CEO revealed that the Bureau requires smoking lounges in casinos to generate negative pressure of at least -5 pascal (Pa), which is similar to operating rooms in hospitals and medical centres for the prevention of cross-contamination from room to room.