Health Bureau to introduce tobacco control inspectors

Friday, May 29, 2009
Issue 716, Page 3
Word count: 414
Published in: Macau Daily Times

Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Health Bureau (SS) has recruited 40 “tobacco control inspectors” and set up a special team to prepare for the launch of the tobacco control office after the relevant law is revised.

In response to lawmakers’ inquiries, SS director Lei Chin Ion said further adjustments will be carried out on the Tobacco Control Act in a bid to meet the requirements of the “Framework Convention on Tobacco Control”.

Such revision had already gone through the Executive Council and is now being studied in the legal department, Lei said.

A work group has been set up responsible for preliminary work for the opening of the tobacco control office once after the bill to revise the law is passed.

According to the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, state parties are required to adopt tax measures as well as reinforce restrictions on duty-free tobacco products.

On May 11 the Legislative Assembly passed the bill which was to significantly increase consumption tax on cigarettes, tobacco and cigars.

The increase in tax is expected to see a rise in retail prices of those products.

Although it is not yet known of when the tax changes will be promulgated and come into effect, the Macau Daily Times yesterday saw the cashier in a chain convenience store ask customers whether they wanted to buy extra cigarette packs as the retail prices would be raised starting Monday.

However, the cashier told the MDTimes the increase in retail prices will vary on the brands and she was not being notified about the range of increase.

Meanwhile, Lei said the SS suggested in the legislation revision to reduce the number of duty-free cigarettes tourists and residents are allowed to bring, and also to restrict their entry time limits.

In order to boost effectiveness in executing the law, the SS chief said the bureau will introduce a fixed penalty system and strengthen human resources.

To date, the SS has already recruited 40 “tobacco control inspectors” who will receive relevant training. Lei said the SS will also consider to let the existing 33 health inspectors assist law enforcement.

Lei stressed that in implementing tobacco control promotional campaigns, the key is to establish support from society, raise public awareness on the regulations, seek cooperation from various venues and establishments as well as encourage smokers to quit smoking and consider the health of other people.

The SS will continue to promote a “non-smoking culture” to the youth through campaigns, education and law enforcement.

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