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Tokyo to seek partial smoking ban by 2019, governor says

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    A senior World Health Organization official said Japan should go fully smoke-free in public places if it wants success for the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Olympic Games. People gathered at a Tokyo smoking area in April.

Tokyo >> Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike announced that the metropolitan government plans to ban smoking in and around public facilities by 2019 and asked Tokyoites for opinions on what to include in the proposed ordinance.

“In 2019 Tokyo will host the Rugby World Cup, and I want to introduce the ban before that,” Koike told a regular news conference at the government headquarters in Shinjuku Ward on Sept. 8. She also stressed Tokyo’s role as the host city of the 2020 Olympic Games, noting that previous host cities passed anti-smoking laws.

The metro government plans to introduce a complete ban on smoking within the premises of medical institutions, schools and child welfare facilities, Koike said.

“It’s needless to say that exposure to secondhand smoke can lead to increased risk of pulmonary cancer or sudden infant death syndrome, which has been proven scientifically,” she said, explaining that the plan is aimed mainly at protecting children. “Children cannot make such choices by themselves.”

Smoking will also be prohibited in many public facilities, such as city halls, care centers for seniors, gymnasiums and universities. Smoking rooms will also be banned in such places.

The metro government also plans to prohibit smoking on public transportation, including taxis and buses, but designated smoking areas aboard trains and ships will be allowed.

Under the proposed ordinance, hotels, inns, bars, entertainment facilities and companies would be allowed to have separate smoking areas.

Tokyo will still allow smoking in facilities with less than 30 square meters of floor space, but only if they ban children and gain consent from employees.

The ban will cover the use of standard cigarettes, cigars and electronic cigarettes.

Violators could face fees of up to 50,000 yen.

To date, only Kanagawa and Hyogo prefectures have introduced similar ordinances.

Suggestions can be submitted to the metro government through Oct. 6 via email, postal mail, fax, online or directly to officials in Shinjuku.

According to a white paper on tobacco released by the health ministry in 2016, the number of deaths resulting from exposure to secondhand smoke is about 15,000 per year. It added that the risk of developing health problems for those exposed to such smoke was 1.3 times higher than for those who aren’t.

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