Full smoking ban could jeopardize social welfare, casinos claim

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Macau’s six casino operators yesterday presented the complete KPMG study into the proposed smoking ban to the Second Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly, arguing that a total ban could negatively impact GDP, while compromising social welfare in the SAR, and even jeopardizing Macau’s position as a global destination for tourism and leisure.
The six operators presented their views on the proposed smoking regulations to the Legislative Assembly, and outlined the possible effects a complete smoking ban could have on Macau’s economy, if casinos were not permitted to retain their smoking lounges.
The KPMG study, which was jointly commissioned by the six operators, analyzed the projected impact of the ban on travel and spending behavior.  The research contained within the study revealed that VIP clients would reduce the frequency of their visits to Macau by 17 percent and the length of their stay by 24 percent if a full smoking ban was implemented. In addition, 32 percent said that they would instead travel to alternative gaming destinations where smoking in casinos is permitted.
The study concluded that if a complete smoking ban is ordered, Macau’s GDP could drop substantially, by another 16 percent. Casino operators argued that a drop in GDP and a loss of subsequent tax revenue could impact the city’s social welfare in the long run. They pointed out that vital public services, such as health and education, are all supported by revenue from MSAR taxes.
The effect could also reach SMEs, the report says, since such companies make up 99.7 percent of Macau’s businesses and typically serve tourism or tourism-related sectors, such as food and beverage and transportation.
The operators urged legislators “to take objective views and carefully consider all of the implications that an enactment of a full smoking ban could have for Macau’s economy”.
The six operators maintained their position that ventilated smoking lounges in casinos would be a more suitable alternative to a full smoking ban. They released the initial results of the report in June, including information about the proportion of employees and customers who are in support of the retention of smoking lounges.
The report found that 66 percent of employees and 71 percent of customers favored the retention of smoking lounges in casinos. In addition, the operators concurred that since the smoking ban on mass gaming floors was implemented last year in October. Feedback on smoking lounges from employees and customers has reportedly been mostly positive. Staff reporter

smoking lounges sufficient, operators argue

Chan Chak Mo, who presides over the AL’s Second Standing Committee, stated at the end of the meeting that gaming operators strongly believe that the independent ventilation system for smoking lounges installed at the gaming venues is sufficient to protect the health of employees. “This is what they say about whether or not to keep smoking areas. They would allow employees to choose whether they want to work in the smoking areas. Employees working in smoking areas would receive a higher salary – that’s a point that has come up many times already,” he said.

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