Gov't eyes indoor smoking ban as early as next year

By Casey Baseel, RocketNews24

If you’re from a country with strict smoking regulations, it can be sort of startling to walk into a restaurant in modern, cosmopolitan Tokyo and be asked if you’d like a seat in the smoking or non-smoking section. And while there are a small handful of restaurants that are smoke-free, they’re vastly outnumbered by eateries that allow unrestricted smoking at each and every seat.

But though Japanese laws tend to be much more tolerant of smoking than those in many Western countries, some of the legislators in Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare think it’s time for a change. In particular, the ministry has become extremely concerned about the effects of second-hand smoke, which by some estimates is responsible for the deaths of 15,000 non-smokers per year in Japan as a root cause of cancer, coronary disease, and other ailments.

In response, the ministry has begun an investigation into the possibility of implementing an indoor smoking ban that would forbid smoking inside of restaurants, bars, hotels, and other service industry buildings. Violators would be required to pay a fine to the building’s management.

Other options being considered are prohibiting indoor smoking in government buildings and horse race tracks, and extending the smoking ban not just to the interiors of schools and medical facilities, but to their outdoor premises as well.

“Japan lags behind other developed countries in addressing the issue of passive smoking,” said the ministry in a statement. While its members are still discussing the proposal both internally and with other governmental organizations, its proponents say that they may be able to introduce a bill before the Diet as early as next year, and hope to have stricter regulations go into effect before the start of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Source: NHK News Web via Jin

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Dating pool may be no-smoking zone as vast majority of women in survey say no to guys who smoke -- Japan’s cigarette culture: elderly ramen customer’s gesture of courtesy goes up in smoke -- Company’s smoking regulations cover all bases with math, technology, psychology, and courtesy

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For the health of everyone, please do this, Japan.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

****leave it as it is

-15 ( +3 / -18 )

People will adapt to a non-smoking ban over a short period of time. It's a good idea!

7 ( +10 / -3 )

It's a great idea, as long as they come up with an alternate solution for smokers (outdoor ashtrays or whatever).

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

There are plenty of places that don't allow smoking already in Tokyo - leave it as it is.

-16 ( +3 / -19 )

OMG, stop talking about it and do it already!

Ban it in all indoor places regardless it's a government building or not. Or at least force the establisment to build a secluted smoking areas not stupidly separated by a line on the floor but be it an actual room (or enclosed space) with smoke extractors like I've seen in malls and Tully's cafe.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Not a moment too soon. Tired of taking my family out to resuarant only to have someone light up after we have started eating.....second hand thanks...clothes wreaking of smoke thanks. The sooner the law is implemented the better.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

This is excellent news. We've had in the UK for a while and it's so nice to go to restaurants, cafes, pubs etc without choking on someone else's smoke and ending up smelling disgusting. Do it Japan.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

About time too.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

It's late but good.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Great idea! I'm all for it! It should rather have been done earlier.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Yes please.

But no, it won't be happening that fast. Next year? Fat chance. However, eventually there may be enough smoking-free(ish) cities in the world to shame Japan into following along.

It's a great idea, as long as they come up with an alternate solution for smokers

One would be to tell them to do their smoking at home, or give up altogether. Harsh, but not entirely unfair. It is in fact the message in a lot of countries, where there are considerable restrictions on the packaging of tobacco and the manner in which it can be sold to consumers.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

The smoking ban is long overdue.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

When they banned smoking indoors in public places in my home state of North Carolina, the results were incredible. You could walk into a restaurant and actually smell the food, you could come home and not smell like an ashtray after a night out for a few drinks (even after not smoking yourself), and knowing the health benefits was just icing on the cake. I give Japan credit: their smoking sections are often well-done, but I'm all for a smoking ban, as it's something that ruins my night out, and can negatively impact my health. I won't miss the stench.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

A friend who runs a small bar has been afraid of offending some regular customers by going non-smoking. There are plenty of people who stay away because of the smoke who could make up the difference, in terms of trade, if the bar did go non-smoking of it's own initiative. A government ban would be the best thing possible. The smokers won't feel like their custom is less valued, and they won't have another place to go instead. (And I'd be so much happier to not go home and have to hang my clothes outside for the night.)

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I had to go to the hospital last Friday night due to an asthma attack from smoke in an Izakaya.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

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