Elevating passive smoking

| April 18, 2018

The Ikoma city government in the Nara Prefecture of Japan is forcing smokers to undergo a ‘decontamination’ period before they can enter elevators, a health rule praised by some but described as draconian by others, according to a story in The Asahi Shimbun.

Workers and visitors to the city government’s offices must wait for 45 minutes after they smoke if they want to use elevators on the grounds that ‘exhaled air from smokers could cause passive smoking’, and because the impact of such passive smoking ‘is especially serious in closed spaces’.

The elevator policy started this month.

Violators face no specific penalties, but the city government is asking even visitors to abide by the rule.

Hiroshi Yamato, a health development professor at the University of Occupational and Environmental Health, Japan, believes the move will protect the health of non-smoking elevator riders. It was his research that led to Ikoma’s elevator policy.

One reason for the elevator policy is that the Ikoma city government is getting tough with smokers generally.

Starting in June, the city will impose an administrative fine of 20,000 yen ($187) on those who smoke on public roads around Kintetsu Ikoma Station.

‘City officials must actively engage in countermeasures against the issue of second-hand smoke because the burden is put on the citizens,’ according to the Ikoma government.

A law introduced in 2003 stipulates that proper countermeasures should be taken to prevent second-hand smoke negatively impacting health. The legislation was the first of its kind in Japan.

The story said it was estimated that 15,000 people died each year in Japan of heart attacks, lung cancer and brain and other diseases caused by passive smoking.

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Category: Breaking News, Harm reduction, People

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