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.© Japan Today