Regulations for Macau smoking lounges inside casinos have been released by Social Affairs and Culture Secretary Alexis Tam Chon Weng that will require resorts to alter their designated tobacco areas.

Macau smoking lounge China cigarettes

Macau smoking lounges will continue to be allowed inside casino resorts, and that’s precisely what the public wants according to Desmond Lam, a gambling scholar at the city’s university. (Image: Jim Sabastian/Times Herald-Record)

Under the new smoking policies, gaming tables and slot machines must be at least three meters, or 9.8 feet, from smoking lounges. If a wall is constructed between the smoking lounge entrance and the casino floor, that distance requirement can be reduced to 6.6 feet.

Inside the smoke-filled enclosures, Macau resorts must incorporate “negative pressure,” aka ventilation systems that allows contaminated air to exit through corridors in order to make sure it doesn’t flow into public areas. The negative pressure should be set at a minimum of -5 pascals when doors are closed.

Macau’s Legislative Assembly banned VIP tableside smoking in July through its Regime on Tobacco Prevention and Control statute. Casinos fought for the right to continue allowing its VIP rooms to light up, but after a recommendation from the city’s Health Bureau, the government ordered all areas of the casino become entirely smoke free.

Non-VIP areas have been clear of tobacco since 2013. A poll conducted by the University of Macau earlier this year found that the general public supports allowing casinos to offer smoking lounges insider their resorts.

The tobacco zones must be updated to the new regulations by January 1, 2019. Macau’s Health Bureau will hold the right to include informative materials on the dangers of smoking inside the spaces.

What a Drag

Smoking and casinos have gone together over the decades almost like America and apple pie. Despite education on the health dangers of cigarettes, today many slot machine players and table game patrons still enjoy their casino experiences with a lit cigarette in hand.

When casinos are forced to put out their customers’ smokes, operators say it hurts their bottom lines.

Caesars claims a no-smoking ordinance in New Orleans costs its Harrah’s resort almost $70 million in just two years after the regulation was implemented. Other cities that have casinos, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for instance, have followed suit in making sure casino workers have clean airspaces to make their living.

Horrifying Statistics

While smoking has decreased in the US over the last 50 years, from over 42 percent of adults smoking in 1965 to just 15 percent last year, in China, 48 percent of the population still lights up on a daily basis. The World Health Organization (WHO) says there are over 300 million tobacco users in China, nearly one-third of the world’s total.

WHO reports that tobacco use is responsible for the deaths of one million Chinese each year, or approximately one death every 30 seconds.

Secondhand smoke has the same harmful carcinogen chemicals that smokers inhale, according to the American Cancer Society. In a typical week, 70 percent of Chinese adults are exposed to secondhand smoke.

To try and reduce consumption, the Macau government has continually raised taxes on the sale of tobacco products. Last year, the tariff was tripled from MOP 0.5 to MOP 1.5, an increase of 13 cents.