Leading up to the 2020 Olympic games, Japan, once a haven for smokers among developed countries, has recently begun sweeping measures to make smoking increasingly inconvenient without outright banning it. While other countries have long ago banished the act from eateries and many other public spaces, Japan has only begun to gradually trim down the available smoking areas in the past decade.
However, as this latest development in Ikoma City, Nara Prefecture, shows, the country is catching up with a fervor. Starting this April, Ikoma City Hall is prohibiting anyone from using its elevators for up to 45 minutes after having a cigarette.
According to posters hung in the building, “When coming indoors after smoking outside, it is said that it takes 45 minutes for the concentration of harmful substances in a person’s breath to return to pre-smoking levels.” Posters also advise smokers, “After smoking, you need to face downwind and take a deep breath before coming back inside.”
It is unclear what penalty awaits someone who rides the elevator without thoroughly decontaminating themselves, but last year Ikoma prohibited smoking around their largest station (Ikoma Station) except for designated areas under penalty of a 20,000 yen fine.
This is just one of many moves being taken to curb smoking in Japan. On March 30, major fast-food chain Mos Burger announced they will be phasing out smoking sections in all 1,300 of their stores nationwide by March, 2020.
Mos Burger is the latest chain alongside McDonald’s, KFC, and Saizeriya to take steps towards becoming completely non-smoking in anticipation of an impending government ban on smoking in major eating establishments.
It appears many online couldn’t be happier with the moves, the biggest complaint being: “What took you so long?”
“A little late, but very welcome.”
“I think we’re going in the right direction here.”
“I wonder why they let people smoke in these places to begin with.”
“I say let the smokers have the fast food places, leave the rest for us.”
“I can add Mos Burger to my list of safe places to go.”
Ikoma City Hall is a very specific location in the grand scheme of Japan, but with this tactic making news across the country the trend of 45-minute elevator lock-outs may catch on. Regardless of right or wrong, hopefully any place that does enact it keeps their AEDs fully charged, because there’s bound to be some “collateral damage” from making smokers use the stairs en masse like that.
Source: Biglobe News, NHK News Web, Hachima Kiko
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