Tokyo Olympics 2020 Should Be Smoke-Free, Campaigners Urge Japan

The 2020 Olympics will be held in Tokyo, and although it's still years away, anti-smoking campaigners are already asking Japan to make restaurants and bars smoke-free for the big event.

News reported that because of Tokyo's smoking laws, it is dubbed as a "smoker's paradise" because it allows smokers the privilege of lighting up in at least 90 percent of bars, restaurants and cafes in the city. In 2014, the estimated number of smokers in Japan is said to be about 20.59 million. The number has actually already decreased from the previous year because of Japan's tightening rules, and also due to greater health awareness and higher cigarette prices.

IOC Requires "Tobacco-Free" Games And The Health Minister Is Eager To Comply

According to Daily Mail Online, Japan's health minister is eager to out smoking in public by the time Tokyo hosts the Olympics. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) requires "tobacco-free" games, and all recent host cities have passed legislation to ban smoking indoors and in enclosed public spaces, which includes bars, restaurants and cafes.

Restaurant and bar owners will be given the option of installing self-contained smoking rooms on their premises. Manabu Sakuta, chair of the Japan Society for Tobacco Control said that the situation for preventing passive smoking in the country is on a level "level with that in a developing nation."

Media Culture Is Part Of Japan's Smoking Problem

Although smoking is banned on some Tokyo streets and in taxis, only about 10 percent of the city's bars, restaurants and cafes are totally smoke-free. As a matter of fact, there is even a cigarette vending machine in a health ministry annex.

Sakuta said that Japan's media culture is part of the problem, and that major newspapers often skirted around the dangers of smoking just to appease Japan Tobacco, the country's leading cigarette company. The proposal for smoking regulations in Japan was met with strong opposition from business owners, saying that their operations would be "impossible" under new laws.


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