Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Alexis Tam Chon Weng said in the legislature’s hemicycle Monday that the government plans to draft legislation on the implementation of a statutory ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages to young people.
Tam made the remarks while addressing a plenary session on the first day of a two-day Q&A session about his portfolio’s policy guidelines for next year.
Tam first told reporters in October that the government was considering the possibility of drafting legislation aiming to tackle the excessive consumption of alcoholic drinks by young people.
While there is a legal ban on the sale of cigarettes to those under the age of 18 in Macao, there is no legal ban on selling them alcoholic drinks.
Delivering an introductory speech during yesterday’s plenary session, Tam said the government would study the drafting of legislation regulating alcohol consumption by youngsters.
Directly-elected lawmaker-cum-civic leader Alan Ho Ion Sang asked Tam for more details on the proposed legislation. Tam said that the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages to those under the age of 18, adding that the local government agrees with this recommendation.
Tam said that the government would launch a public consultation next year on the drafting of bill on a statutory ban on the sale of alcoholic drinks to youngsters based on the WHO recommendation. He said that the government would then draft the legislation after the public consultation process is completed.
Tam said he believes that Macao’s civil society will agree with the government’s proposed ban on the sale of alcohol to young people.
Describing Macao’s anti-smoking measures as “very successful”, Tam said the next step should be to implement anti-drinking measures, adding that both approaches would keep local youngsters away from cigarettes and alcohol, which he said would transform Macao into a healthy city and “happy home”.
A statutory ban on the sale of alcoholic drinks to under-18s in Hong Kong came into force on November 30.
When answering a question from indirectly-elected legislator-cum-unionist Lam Lon Wai, Tam said that the government was well prepared for the possible implementation of a statutory ban on the sale of alcoholic drinks to youngsters. He said that the government also plans to upgrade the Tobacco Prevention and Control Office – which is run by the Health Bureau (SSM) – into the Tobacco and Alcohol Prevention and Control Office.
Meanwhile, the policy secretary also announced a “world-class cultural event” for next year, without elaborating.
Tam said the aim was to transform the city into a new Asian platform for international artistic exchanges.
Tam also said that there was no better place in the world than Macao for caring for special needs children and early childhood care.
He also said that even though the government’s expenditure on healthcare was “astronomical,” the result was “excellent.”
According to Tam, the government plans to spend 8.5 billion patacas on healthcare next year.
He also said that Macao’s healthcare was among the best in the world, adding that locals only pay for 26 percent of the healthcare costs since 74 percent of the cost is borne by the government.