Health Bureau (SSM) Director Lei Chin Ion said on Tuesday that his bureau aims to launch a public consultation on a possible ban of sales of alcohol to minors by the end of this year — i.e. before the term of the current government ends at midnight on December 19.
The government’s bill on such a ban would have to be passed by the legislature to take effect.
Lei made the remarks while speaking to reporters at Macau Tower on the sidelines of an event organised by the Social Welfare Bureau (IAS) to award government entities and social service organisations which have implemented measures for a barrier-free environment for people with disabilities who visit their premises.
Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Alexis Tam Chon Weng first made the suggestion of the possible ban on sales of alcohol to minors last year.
Lei said on Tuesday that his bureau has already completed drafting the public consultation document, adding that the matter was undergoing administrative procedures before the public consultation could be launched.
Lei said that during the public consultation process, his bureau was open to listening to opinions from residents for various topics, such as 1) the minimum age for people subject to the sale ban, 2) what the alcohol by volume (ABV) of a beverage should be to be covered by the ban, and 3) whether retail businesses should be fined for selling alcoholic beverages to minors. Lei said that the public consultation would, for instance, ask the public whether beer, which usually has an ABV of five or six percent, should be covered by the ban, which was just one of the questions that the government would need to listen to the opinions of civil society.
According to the Macau Post Daily, Lei said that in addition to the possible sale ban to minors, campaigning and education on the issue were equally important. Lei noted a possible situation in which parents accompanied by their underage offspring order alcoholic beverages during a meal in a restaurant and the children join their parents in drinking such beverages, in which case, he said, the possible ban would not apply.