Gov’t to ban smoking in indoor public places

Monday, June 1, 2009
Issue 719, Page 7
Word count: 498
Published in: Macau Daily Times

Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The bill to revise the Tobacco Control Act will enter the legislative process shortly in order to create a “fair environment” for both smokers and non-smokers, Health Bureau (SS) director said yesterday.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 2009 World No Tobacco Day promotional activity at Senado Square, Lei Chin Ion said the legal department is doing the final review and translation of the bill text, adding it is expected that the revision will be submitted to the Legislative Assembly very soon.

Lei said the government proposed that smoking will be prohibited in all indoor public places and a fixed fine will be in place.

Yet he said that the amount of the fine could not yet be announced.

According to the SS director, the most important thing of tobacco control is to promote the impairments of second-hand smoke.

The official statistics showed that in 2008, only 17 percent of the Macau population were smokers, whilst the majority of 83 percent could be exposed to second-hand smoke at any time.

“The new law is not aimed at smokers, but to create a fair environment where smokers have the freedom to smoke and non-smokers also have the freedom not to inhale second-hand smoke,” Lei said.

“Hence before the new regulation is enforced, we have been doing a lot of promotion to let the public aware of the harm of smoking and their right not to breathe in second-hand smoke,” he added.

In addition, Lei said tobacco suppliers will be required compulsorily to print pictorial warnings covering half of each cigarettes pack, with pictures provided by the government.

At present, each pack of cigarettes only needs to show text health warnings in Chinese and Portuguese covering no less than 20 percent of the box.

A tobacco control office will also be set up mainly to advise people not to smoke in indoor public areas in collaboration with the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau and the public security forces.

Lei said the 40 tobacco control inspectors are receiving legal training from the police forces.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) World No Tobacco Day is observed every year on May 31 and this year’s theme was on “tobacco health warnings”.

According to the WHO, tobacco health warnings appear on packs of cigarettes are among the “strongest defences against the global epidemic of tobacco”.

Health warnings that contain both pictures and words are especially recommended as WHO said they are the “most effective” at convincing people to quit.

There are around 30 countries and regions worldwide that are using pictorial health warnings on packs of cigarettes including Singapore, Thailand, Canada, Brazil and Hong Kong.

In Singapore, 28 percent of the smokers said that pictorial warnings made them smoke less, and one sixth of the smokers started to avoid smoking in front of children.

The Health Bureau has set up a free clinic to help people quit smoking at the Areia Preta Health Centre in Macau’s northern district.

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