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Junket association chief voices smoking ban concerns at forum

The Macau junket association head said that a blanket smoking ban would be a “disastrous blow” to the troubled gaming industry.

Speaking at the Macau Forum - an open-air debate in Areia Preta Park - Macau Gaming Junket and Entertainment Association Chairman Kwok Chi Chung said many VIP room gamblers who currently generate about 56 percent of the Macau gaming industry’s revenue are heavy smokers and that a blanket ban in such a downturn would be “disastrous” for Macau’s overall revenue.

Kwok added that it would be better if the government provided better guidance and regulations for smoking lounges, punishing any operators who failed to follow them.  

One of the 40 panelists at the debate, Billy Song Wai Kit, president of the Macau Responsible Gaming Association, echoed Kwok’s concerns and said that in other regions there is not a full smoking ban in casinos so implementing one in Macau could put the city at a disadvantage.

Despite such opposition to the ban, the government has made its position clear - that it will not compromise the health of casino workers and the public.

Secretary for Economy and Finance, Lionel Leong, said last week that junket operators should “take social responsibility” for their businesses, and that public health takes priority over gaming revenue.

Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Alexis Tam Chon Weng has also said the government will continue to push for the full smoking ban.

Tang Chi Ho, who heads the Tobacco Prevention and Control Office, said at the forum that only by fully banning smoking indoors can people’s health be protected.

“As a doctor, I couldn’t support anything that is harmful to people’s health,” he said.



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