Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture told lawmakers on Tuesday that the government would need 1,800 inspectors to be able to carry out 24-hour tobacco control measures.
Tam announced the figure during a question-and-answer session in the hemicycle of the Legislative Assembly (LA) about matters overseen by his portfolio.
Tam pointed out that the government currently has only 67 anti-smoking inspectors. He insisted that it was unrealistic to hire 1,800 anti-smoking inspectors.
The policy secretary made the remarks in response to an interpellation by indirectly-elected lawmaker Lam Lon Wai, a deputy school principal and vice-president of the Macau Federation of Trade Unions (AGOM), on the issue.
The currently 67 tobacco control inspectors are employed by the Tobacco Prevention and Control Office under the Health Bureau (SSM).
Residents have complained that some karaoke bars, lounges and other night entertainment businesses allow their patrons to smoke after midnight, knowing that the government’s tobacco control inspectors usually are not working that late.
Meanwhile, Tam also said the government was still analysing a possible ban on the import and sale of e-cigarettes in Macau. He also said that the government was planning to strengthen its efforts to tackle alcohol consumption by young people.
Tam told the media late last year that the government was planning to launch a public consultation in 2019 on the sale of alcoholic beverages to minors. At that time, he indicated that 18 was the proper minimum age to be allowed to buy alcohol.