Smoking bans an Olympic effort

| April 24, 2017
Tokyo photo

Photo by osamukaneko

Ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan’s Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has drafted a set of measures calling for a tobacco smoking ban on the premises of public facilities such as schools and hospitals, and imposing penalties on violators, according to a story in the Japan Times. However, differences of opinion between opponents and proponents of the measures within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party is casting a pall over the measures’ prospects.

The Times said that the crux of the issue lay in the contradictory policies that the government had pursued by trying to secure tobacco sales as a major source of tax revenue while simultaneously seeking smoking restrictions to protect public health. ‘What the government has been doing is tantamount to hitting the accelerator and the brakes at the same time,’ the Times story pointed out.

The health ministry’s proposed measures would create three types of areas where smoking would be restricted or prohibited, with a proprietor violating the rules subject to a maximum fine of ¥500,000.

The most strict rules would be applied to such facilities as medical institutions, elementary, junior-high and high schools, and child welfare centers, where smoking would be completely banned.

Indoor smoking would be prohibited in such public venues as government offices, universities and sports facilities, and creation of smoking rooms would not be allowed in these places.

In areas where indoor smoking would be banned ‘in principle’, such as restaurants and hotels, proprietors would have the freedom to create smoking rooms.

The health ministry’s plans were compiled as a necessary step to prepare for the 2020 Games, but an outline of a draft of the measures released in October came under fire from industries that would be affected by the measures.

“Owners of restaurants, coffee shops and bars fear that the new rules could force them out of business,” said Toshio Omori, head of a national confederation of trade organizations in food, beverage and other services.

And Tadao Kikuchi, chairman of the Japan Food Service Association, said association members already provided customers with choices by designating smoking and non-smoking areas. The proposed rules, Kikuchi said “run counter to the diversity of the food and beverage industry and customers’ ability to choose what they like”.

Some opponents of the measures have said that since they are being brought in because of the 2020 Games, they should be limited to Tokyo.

The full story is at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2017/04/23/commentary/japan-commentary/poverty-politics-tobacco-policy/#.WPyqwLsrK2w.

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Category: Breaking News, Regulation

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