Chiyoda Ward launches no-smoking law

People who smoke on the streets in parts of Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward will be subject to a 2,000 yen fine under an ordinance that took effect Tuesday.

The Chiyoda Ward Office, the first local government in Japan to pass a no-smoking law, said patrol officers will issue warnings to offenders during the month of October. The fine will be enforced starting Nov. 1.

Nearly 50 patrollers, wearing special armbands and carrying soccer-style warning “yellow cards” to hand out to offenders, took to the streets Tuesday morning to check whether pedestrians were abiding by the ordinance.

Smoking in motor vehicles is not covered by the ordinance.

“It is the wish of the ward’s residents to make this a clean and safe town. I am setting out with unflagging resolve,” Ward Mayor Masami Ishikawa said at a ceremony in front of the ward office to mark the start of the patrols.

“Whether or not we can realize this ordinance is on your shoulders,” Ishikawa, a smoker himself, told the patrollers before they began their new task. The patrols are made up of ward personnel.

Both smoking and discarding cigarette butts on the street will be subject to a fine. The ordinance allows for fines of up to 20,000 yen, but the ward intends start with a fine of 2,000 yen.

Chiyoda officials said the ward took the measure following numerous complaints by people getting their clothes burned by the cigarettes of others while walking.

Passed in June this year, the ordinance covers neighborhoods close to eight busy railway stations: Yurakucho, Kanda, Akihabara, Ochanomizu, Suidobashi, Iidabashi, Ichigaya and Yotsuya.

The eight neighborhoods account for 30 percent of the 11.6-sq.-km ward.