Kanagawa prefecture have announced plans for a ‘Public Facilities No Smoking Regulation’. This regulation is already active in hospitals and schools but now there are plans to expand its reach to Pachinko parlors and Izakayas.
If this rule comes into force, it will be Japan’s first groundbreaking anti-smoking legislation.
Restaurants and shops serving food and drink are voicing concerns that this will negatively affect their sales. The medical establishment, who are a driving force behind anti-smoking measures, are giving their approval to this new regulation. In Kanagawa, this issue is already causing friction.
The Mainichi Shimbun reports some differing local opinions.
1. Ryoji Shiraishi, the owner of four pachinko parlors in Yokohama and is against the regulations due to concerns about sales says: “Over 70% of my customers smoke.”
2. Noriko Ebina, the Head of the Secretariat for Yokohama’s ‘Food and Drink Business Livelihood Health and Hygiene Trade Association’ (literal translation) says: “I feel we are being bullied. We have already been affected by the tightening of the Drink Driving Road Traffic Act…”
3. The public relations department for JT tobacco says, “Coffee shops, pachinko parlors and hotels have a different clientele so we are against a broad ban. It should be left up to each business owner to decide for themselves.”
1. Yoshihito Fujiwara, the Director for Yokohama’s pediatricians’ ‘Anti-smoking Kanagawa Assembly for the Propulsion of Separate Smoking Areas’ says “these penal regulations are natural. Passive smoking has gone beyond being just annoying, it is a health affecting assault. There are limits to just suing people for breaching manners.”
2. Manabu Sakuda, the Board Chairman for the ‘Anti-smoking Scientific Society of Japan’ says “these rules that are thought of as groundbreaking in Japan yet are normal in other countries abroad.”
The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare reported that in 2005 Japan had roughly 30.2 million smokers—around 25% of the population (see JIN: http://www.japaninc.com/jin422.
With countries such as the UK and Australia already imposing anti-smoking measures in public places and places serving food and drink, it seems only natural that Japan would be next in following in the footsteps of a global ban on smoking. However, as mentioned in JIN 422 (Smoke on the horizon: http://www.japaninc.com/jin422), the perception of smoking may be quite different from those in other countries. Although underage smoking is harshly frowned upon (and made harder recently with the new age identification measure for cigarette vending machines), and smoking whilst walking for a lady is thought of as very taboo, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare reported that in 2005 Japan had roughly 30.2 million smokers—that’s around 25%of the population who still smoke.
However, with smoking banned on many streets throughout the country, new smoking bans in taxis and regulation tightening for under-age smoking , it seems only natural that the next step for Japan would be to start banning it in public places…
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