Macao is set to prohibit the sale of alcohol to under-18s, both over the counter and online, complementing a current law which bans selling cigarettes to minors.
Secretary for Administration and Justice André Cheong Weng Chon, who is also the spokesman for the government’s top advisory Executive Council, announced that the government has finished drafting a bill that proposes to ban the sale of alcoholic drinks to anyone under the age of 18.
The bill will be submitted to the Legislative Assembly in due course for debate, review and vote.
The government carried out a public consultation in late 2020 on a possible ban on the sale of alcoholic drinks to minors.
Speaking on Friday, Cheong pointed out that according to the World Health Organization, excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages is “seriously” harmful to health, particularly for physically and psychologically immature young people, because of which, Cheong said, the government had decided to draft the bill, officially known as Law on the Prevention and Control on Minors’ Consumption of Alcoholic Beverages.
Cheong said that the bill proposes that alcoholic drinks subject to the proposed sale ban will be defined as those with an alcohol by volume (ABV) of over 1.2 per cent, meaning that minors would still be allowed to buy drinks with an ABV of up to 1.2 per cent.
The bill proposes that alcoholic beverages will be prohibited from being sold or provided to those under the age of 18 at public venues, Cheong said.
The bill also proposes that under-18s will be barred from selling alcoholic drinks at public venues.
More specifically, the bill proposes to bar anyone from hiring minors to sell alcoholic beverages or from telling them to provide such drinks at public venues. In addition, Cheong said, the bill also proposes to bar minors from “engaging in self-employment activities” that sell alcoholic drinks at public venues.
In addition, Cheong said, the bill proposes to ban the sale of alcoholic beverages to minors through any “remote” means, such as online shopping and courier services.
According to Cheong, the bill also proposes that a notice prohibiting the sale or provision of alcoholic drinks to those under the age of 18 must be displayed in clearly visible locations at any venues selling or providing such beverages.
Moreover, Cheong said, the bill proposes that minors shall not drink alcoholic beverages at public venues.
The bill proposes that those selling alcoholic beverages to minors at public venues will be fined MOP 20,000. According to Cheong, the proposed MOP 20,000 fine will also cover those “providing alcoholic drinks to minors at public venues for commercial purposes”.
Asked about the feasibility of the implementation of the proposed ban via online shopping, Health Bureau Director Alvis Lo Iek Long said that it would not be difficult, adding that online-shopping websites selling alcoholic drinks will be required to clearly display a warning notice prohibiting the sale of such beverages to those aged below 18.
In addition, Lo said, those buying alcoholic beverages on online-shopping platforms will be required to confirm that they are aged at least 18, The Macau Post Daily reported.