Representatives of a recently-established trade union for the gaming industry’s “frontline workers” urged the Health Bureau (SSM) Wednesday to ensure that it has inspectors on duty in the city’s casinos 24 hours a day to enforce a strict smoking ban in the non-smoking areas of the casinos.
The union also urged the government to review as soon as possible the measures already in place regulating the setting-up of smoking areas in casinos.
Ieong Man Teng, a 28-year-old croupier who heads the union, made the remarks to reporters after handing the group’s petition to an official representative outside Government House, addressed to SSM Director Lei Chin Ion.
The city’s gaming operators were forced to set up a designated smoking area covering no more than 50 percent of the public area in each casino by January 1 this year, according to the Tobacco Control Law.
Ieong, who is croupier in a local casino, told reporters that his group still received many complaints from casino employees who are still inhaling second-hand smoke even thought they are working in the supposedly non-smoking areas of their casino.
He added even though casino employees called the SSM Tobacco Prevention and Control Office to report that they found people smoking in non-smoking areas of their casino, they often had to leave messages on an answering machine.
“We also received complaints that gaming operators often close some tables in non-smoking areas … so that some croupiers have to suffer from passive smoking for long periods,” Ieong was quoted by The Macau Post Daily as saying, adding that some gaming operators set up the non-smoking areas mainly in slot-machine areas.
Leong also said that according to the findings of an online survey carried out by his group last month, 94.5 percent of 1,381 respondents – 1304 – said they support a full smoking ban in all casinos, while only 5.5 percent said they were against it.
In Chinese, the union is known as Macau Gaming Industry Frontline Workers. Its official English name is “Forefront of the Macau Gaming” [sic].
Ieong also said that he hoped the SSM chief would arrange a meeting with them.
The group also urged the government to implement a complete smoking ban in all casinos.
Meanwhile, Gaming Inspection and Co-ordination Bureau (DICJ) Vice Director Leong Man Ion told reporters on the sidelines of a public event yesterday that his bureau would provide full support to the Health Bureau regarding the implementation of the smoking ban in casinos’ non-smoking areas.
Regarding the increase in the minimum age from 18 to 21 for entry into casinos which took effect in January, Leong said that the figures received from casinos showed that there have been about 10,000 people on average per months aged less than 21 that have attempted to enter the casinos, most of whom were visitors.(macaunews)