In July this year, the Legislative Assembly approved a new regime in regards to public smoking. On Monday, the government of Macau announced the details of the newly-amended Regime on Tobacco Prevention and Control, which will reportedly be effective from January 1, 2018.

As part of the new regime, tableside smoking is no longer allowed in gambling areas for VIPs. According to GGRAsia, operators do have the ability to submit an application to construct a smoking lounge, sans gaming but within high-roller rooms. As for casino mass floors, smoking lounges will still be approved.

The technical details released yesterday were provided by Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture and according to GGRAsia. The Secretary is Alexis Tam Chon Weng who is responsible for the policies involving smoking across Macau, including inside gaming venues.

Within the new regime, it states that gaming machines and tables have to be placed at least three meters from a smoking lounge entrance of a lounge that is located inside a casino. The distance can be shortened by two meters if a wall separates the casino from the smoking lounge.

Smoking lounges are also supposed to contain negative pressure components and such components now have even stricter standards. When the doors are closed, the negative pressure must be set to more than negative 5 pascals within the lounge. In the past, there was no level setting required by the government.

Smoking lounges are also required to have a single entrance and have an automated system that controls sliding doors for opening and closing. An alarm has to be included that will provide warning if the doors are left open for more than one minute or if the negative pressure detects a rating of negative five pascals or less.

Additional technical details include the fact that the smoking lounge must be cleaned and before cleaning can take place, the lounge must stop all smoking for a two-hour time frame. The staff that clean the lounge are required to wear masks for protection. Casinos that offer smoking lounges must take precautions to protect the health of employees. What measures are to be taken in this regard were not provided in the update by Mr. Tam.

The new rules also specify that smoking lounges must provide information about the health risks related to smoking tobacco. Services are offered by the Health Bureau of Macau to help smokers quit and information regarding such services must be included in the smoking lounges. Products related to the tobacco industry cannot be advertised within the lounges.

The new rules have also put the Health Bureau in charge of overseeing the smoking lounges as well as authorizing the rules regarding such lounges. The Regime on Tobacco Prevention and Control was recently amended and will come into effect  January 1st, 2018. Casinos will then have one year to install lounges for smoking that are free of gaming in the VIP areas of their venues. The new heightened technical standards must be met by every casino’s smoking lounge by Jan. 1st, 2019.