Smoking prevalence among Japanese men has dropped from 75% to about 40% in the past 30 years. Smoking bans have been introduced in many public places and in many taxis. But only 1% of restaurants impose a total ban on smoking.
There are no national regulations on smokefree environments. There are no current or forthcoming smokefree legislation/initiatives for implementation of Article 8 by the Japanese Government. Approximately 40 cities or prefectures have smokefree policies, but they are very limited.
Mr Matsuzawa, Governor of Kanagawa Prefecture, is going to enact a smokefree Kanagawa Ordinance on a local government basis. However, he is facing strong opposition from JT and other tobacco companies. A ban on smoking in taxis in Tokyo was introduced on January 2008. Compliance rates within two months were high – an estimated 95% of taxis are smokefree.
It was reported by a health official in March 2009 that Japan may tighten rules on smoking in public facilities. However he denied a report that plans to ban smoking in public facilities could be announced by April 2009. Public broadcaster NHK said a ban could be announced for hospitals, government offices and public transport. (ASH Scotland Daily Bulletin 24 March 2009).
On 24 March 2009 the Kanagawa prefectural assembly approved an ordinance calling for a ban on smoking in public facilities such as hospitals, schools and government offices. It also requires restaurants and hotels to choose between becoming non-smoking or creating separate smoking areas. Kanagawa is the first of Japan’s 47 prefectures to regulate smoking in public places, including spaces operated by the private sector. However, the ordinance was toned down from the Kanagawa Governer’s original call for a total ban on smoking in public places, exempting small restaurants and hotels and suspending penalties for some violators for one year. The ordinance will come into force in April 2010. (GL NIMI 25 March 2009).
Smokefree resources available in 2009
NPO Japan Society for Tobacco Control www.nosmoke55.jp
SEATCA www.seatca.org Includes Asia Pacific Report Card: WHO FCTC Articles 6,8, 11 & 13 (October 2008).
Public education materials/implementation or enforcement materials
NPO Smoke-free Environment for Kids in Japan www3.ocn.ne.jp/~muen/
Needs related to implementing smokefree policies
Scientific evidence that can convince the Japanese public that smoking rooms or corners are not effective protection against secondhand smoke and that smokefree policies are the only solution indoors.
International pressure on Japan for implementation of the FCTC.
Factors helping or hindering the implementation of Article 8
The Health Promotion Law, which stipulates the prevention of secondhand smoke, has no penalty for the violation of the law.
Tobacco business law and the Ministry of Finance have monopolised the power to organize the regulations on tobacco. The Ministry of Health does not have any powers over tobacco control. Tobacco Industry Law promotes “healthy development” of the tobacco industry, and the government is the major stockholder in Japan Tobacco Inc. Most MPs and the public are not concerned about the problems associated with tobacco use. They are misled by the tobacco industry about the concept of smokers’ rights to smoke being respected.
Other countries that have influenced smokefree laws