Fresh bid to hike cigarette tax in works


Ruling bloc lawmakers plan to file a bid to hike the tobacco tax in a drive to improve public health ahead of the Olympics.

A group of lawmakers from the Liberal Democratic Party plans to submit a joint proposal with Komeito, its coalition partner, to raise the levy, which now stands at 64.4 percent per pack, in an attempt to curb passive smoking.

The move is aimed at reducing smoking ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, informed sources said Thursday. In 2010, the International Olympic Committee and the World Health Organization agreed that the sporting spectacles should be tobacco-free. The IOC urges host cities to strengthen regulations against smoking.

The politicians plan to submit their proposal to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga on Tuesday. They hope the proposal will be reflected in the fiscal 2016 tax reforms the ruling camp is set to release as early as Dec. 10, the sources said.

The LDP Research Commission on the Tax System has said it will consider a tobacco tax hike over the long term.

After a similar hike in October 2010, cigarette sales in Japan fell by 12.7 billion in fiscal 2011 ending in March. This apparently led the LDP group and Komeito to seek another hike to promote public health and curb secondhand smoking risks, the sources said.