JAPAN TO BAN INDOOR SMOKING

A bill introduced to the Japanese parliament which could ban smoking in all public spaces has come under fire for banning smoking in restaurants. The bill has been introduced as part of preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics under pressure from the International Olympic Committee and the World Health Organization, which is aiming for a smoke-free Olympics. The Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry has insisted that smoking not be banned in establishments with up to 30m2 of floor space, such as izakaya (taverns), while the governing Liberal Democratic Party is campaigning for even looser regulations.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the LDP is supporting legislation which will allow for smoking in establishments with up to 150m2 as long as they specify that smoking is allowed on the premises or allowed in a specified area. These regulations would exempt most restaurants in the country, nullifying the bill.

The WHO has stated that Japan has the worst measures against second-hand smoking in the world. Apart from restaurants, the bill would ban smoking in all public spaces around the country, including universities, gyms, and government-owned facilities.