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Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike, seated center, takes part in an event to launch a campaign between the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Japan Cancer Society, calling on businesses across Japan to make workplaces free from tobacco smoke.

WHO and Japan Cancer Society launch campaign to create smoke-free workplaces in Japan


The World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with Japan Cancer Society, is calling on businesses across Japan to join a new campaign to make workplaces free from tobacco smoke. 

The campaign—a WHO initiative being rolled out across the Western Pacific Region—seeks to highlight the importance of eliminating second-hand smoke from public places, while Japan is in the spotlight as it hosts the Rugby World Cup and prepares to host the 2020 Olympic Games next year.

Several big-name Japanese firms have declared their support, including Yahoo! Japan, Sompo Himawari Life Insurance, SoftBank, Autobacs Seven, Chikaranomoto Holdings, and Rohto Pharmaceutical.

The launch event on Tuesday at the National Cancer Center, Tokyo, was attended by Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike and Dr Takeshi Kasai, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific. Also attending were senior representatives of CEO Roundtable on Cancer-China and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, two key partners for WHO in this campaign outside of Japan. 

“Tobacco use is one of the world's leading preventable causes of death. It kills 8 million people globally each year, including 1.2 million non-smokers who are exposed to smoke. In Japan, second-hand smoke alone kills 15,000 people every year. For businesses, smoking raises operational costs by adversely affecting workers’ health and productivity,” says Dr Kasai.

“With Japan in the global spotlight as the host of world-class sporting events, smoking should no longer be a question of manners; a 100% smoke-free environment is a global health standard. Japan’s citizens – and visitors to the country – deserve that protection,” he added. 

Dr Tadao Kakizoe, president of Japan Cancer Society, said: “It is fitting that the we are launching this campaign at the National Cancer Center where Dr Takashi Hirayama launched the world's first research project on passive smoking and lung cancer. Work is where we spend most of our time, and we hope this new campaign will trigger a positive chain reaction that drastically shifts attitudes toward smoking in Japan’s workplaces.” 

On the campaign website (www.revolutionsmokefree.org) businesses can affirm their commitment to smoke-free workplaces, share experiences of going smoke-free and invite other businesses to follow suit. The website also enables workers to learn about making workplaces smoke-free and to request their management to implement a smoke-free workplace policy.

Japan has recently taken action against second-hand smoking. In July this year, smoking was banned in public places including schools, hospitals, and government and children’s facilities under a July 2018 amendment to the health Promotion Act. Tokyo has a new smoke-free ordinance that will fully enter into force in April 2020, and several local city governments have also established, or are now working toward, their own smoke-free ordinances. 

Among corporations, smoke-free workplaces are increasingly being recognized as essential to workplace wellness. More and more companies are introducing policies to ban smoking in offices and are supporting their employees to quit smoking. 

“Foreign visitors are often used to stronger protections from second-hand smoke in their own countries. I hope that momentum towards stronger protections from second-hand smoke will be continued in Japan, so that the wonderful memories of the world-class sporting events in Japan are not tainted by a haze of second-hand smoke,” adds Dr Kasai.

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YES! Spread the word! www.revolutionsmokefree.org

Second-hand smoke belongs in smoking cubicles.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I am wondering if The Japan Cancer Society is another name for Japan's largest society of cancer researchers, The Japan Cancer Association?

If so, I have an interesting anecdote regarding institutional (STEM and government) attitudes about health and money.

On Feb. 14, 2008, I had a meeting with C.T. san, the then Executive Secretary of The Japan Cancer Association, and one of the members of the Board of Directors, a professor at Tokyo University.

I had just returned from an emergency trip back to the U.S., barely in time to be at my father's bedside when he died of lung cancer, the same disease which killed his second wife a couple of years earlier.

I was introduced to the JCA by a close friend and cancer researcher at a university hospital. Here is a copy of some of the information I sent in letters to the association —

A month or two ago, in one of the English newspapers published here in Japan (the former hard-copy paper, The Daily Yomiuri), I noticed an article concerning Japan's Cancer Association's plan on having all future presentations in English.

Out of my obligation as member of society, and for personal family reasons, I am offering my services as an unpaid volunteer to help members with their English presentation skills.

I am a 20+ year veteran of English teaching Public Speaking in Japan, I had coached a student who won 2nd place in the All Japan Semmongakko Speech Contest, had just finished serving as a chief judge for my second E.S.S. All Japan English Speech Contest (also as a volunteer), was in my 6th year as a member of The Tokyo College Association of Speech Contest Committee, was on my 3rd year as a member of the Mombukagakkusho English Textbook Reading Committee, I have a background in science (undergrad in biology) including several years teaching and co-ordinating biology laboratories in English as well as teaching presentation skills in English at an unnamed (by JapanToday policy) American university in Japan, and I am currently a tenured, Associate Professor of English at a Japanese College (which also shall be unnamed in accordance with JapanToday policy).

If you are in need of a volunteer, native-speaking education specialist, please feel free to contact me.

One day prior to the meeting, I received a letter stating the following ...

Thank you. It is because, for The Japanese Cancer Association (JCA), this is our first proposal of volunteer and we have no scheme for accpeting (mispelling on their part) such a proposal.

I attended the meeting, which was brief but cordial,. The director explained that sports stars and media idols had donated their money and image to the JCA, but no one had ever asked to be a volunteer, much less to help the Japanese cancer researchers with their English presentation skills ... and frankly they did not know how to make use of my offer. He then gave me the 'Don't call us, we'll call you' spiel, and I never heard from them again.

Nice photo and press coverage in the article above, but I can't help but to wonder about the timing and motivation.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

After a cursory search on the web, I found the 'Japan Cancer Society' and 'The Japan Cancer Association' are indeed, two separate organizations. But as is often the case in Japan, membership in one group competes with and excludes members from other groups ... even if the groups purport to have similar aims.

The Japan Cancer Association is the largest group, consists mostly of technical researchers, and in late 2007, did announce their policy shift to English-only presentations in order to better collaborate with cancer researchers world-wide. As my offer to serve was judged as either irrelevant or too problematic for their group, I have not kept up with them either, and do not know if they have continued to follow that policy.

At the very least, I can guess that at least in my case, they did not think collaboration between me with other Japanese groups or the government, was worth their consideration. Maybe I would have been more useful as as a staff writer or photographer of the politicians and CEO 'influencers'.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ha, healer heal thyself.

One too many 'as's in that last sentence. Or should that be 'as•'?

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Spent best part of an hour today in the doctor's waiting room (respiratory specialist) to get some results and chat.

During that time a young guy came in to see the doc and sat down near me. He reeked of tobacco - I mean reeked. Obviously he just had a smoke outside before coming in.

I couldn't stand it so moved to the magazine area and stood for 15mins making out I was reading.

His 3rd hand smoke was terrible. I could see another person squirming, but most people are too polite to say/do anything.

The last place I expected to be exposed to that stink was the lung docs.

Insane some people.

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