By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
The Health Bureau (SS) has appointed experts to study the effectiveness of air purifiers to control tobacco smoke in casinos, director Lei Chin Ion confirmed yesterday.
He reiterated that the top concern of the Government is the health of locals, but added that the actual situation of Macau cannot be overlooked either.
Lawmaker Ng Kuok Cheong told reporters on the sidelines of the 4th Cross-Strait Conference on Tobacco Control that the SS director has disclosed to him that the six gaming operators have proposed the use of devices to filter tobacco smoke in order to replace a full smoking ban inside casinos, according to Radio Macau.
The lawmaker said that this kind of smoke-control air purifiers have minimal effects, and criticised the gaming enterprises for “thwarting” the legislative process of the anti-smoking bill.
He urged the Government to show “determination” in implementing this policy.
Meanwhile, Lei Chin Ion rejected claims that the gaming operators should be blamed for the delays, stressing that the bilateral negotiation aims at finding a “balance point”.
Yet, a spokesperson from the bureau told the Macau Daily Times the use of smoke-control filters is just a “very preliminary” option, adding it is still uncertain whether or not smoking will be allowed anywhere or just in designated areas in casinos if such kinds of devices are to be installed in the future.
He also denied that the study was only initiated after the gaming enterprises presented the proposal to the SS, and said the Government is open to all options and will look into each of them in the hope to find the most appropriate resolution.
He added that it was not certain when the study will be completed or whether the findings will be announced to the public, but said that the expert group has already collected some data and information for the investigation.
The Government is currently working on the second draft of the anti-smoking bill. But Lei Chin Ion told reporters on Wednesday that the bureau still has to discuss the smoke-control measures with entertainment establishments, and doesn’t have an idea about when the new draft can be sent back to the Legislative Assembly’s Second Standing Committee for deliberation.