Health ministry aims to get smoking rate down to 10%

Kyodo

The health ministry is drawing up a plan to reduce the smoking rate in Japan to around 10 percent, almost half the 23.4 percent in 2009, officials said Monday.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry aims to insert the numerical target into its fiscal 2013-2022 health promotion plan, and in its basic plan for anticancer programs for the next five years, they said.

It is expected that smokers who want to quit will reach around 40 percent in the upcoming survey, due partly to price hikes, and that the reduction target will be set on the assumption all of them will quit.

Government efforts to set a reduction target have faced setbacks in the past due to opposition from the tobacco industry.

The health ministry plans to propose the numerical goal at an anticancer committee on Feb. 1, seeking to obtain more support for setting such goal amid rising health consciousness.

The smoking rate was 27.7 percent in 2003 but it has been on a downward trend. In 2009, the percentage of smokers stood at 38.2 percent among men and 10.9 percent among women.