This week’s featured article
The health ministry is considering a legal revision banning smoking in public areas to help bring Japan’s battle against secondhand smoke in line with the global standard ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, a ministry official said on Jan. 31.
It remains unclear, however, how forceful a step the ministry can take toward stamping out the nation’s long-standing tolerance of secondhand smoke in public facilities, as it faces staunch resistance from those in the restaurant and hotel industries who cater to smokers.
The envisioned amendment features a ban on smoking across the gamut of public institutions, from schools and hospitals to municipal offices, eateries and hotels.
The current Health Promotion Law only stipulates that operators of these facilities need to “make efforts” to prevent secondhand smoke and imposes no penalty on violators.
For the first time ever, the revision in the works would seek to change that, slapping business operators with an as yet undetermined fine for failing to declare their premises a no-smoking zone or carry out other necessary measures, the official said, adding that details have yet to be finalized.
Among facilities subject to the laxest anti-smoking efforts would be restaurants, hotels, inns and train stations, which the draft said should have segregated smoking rooms to minimize the effect of passive smoking.
As Tokyo prepares to host the Olympics in 2020, the move toward a ban on smoking in public facilities heralds a critical step toward Japan becoming a responsible country according to the so-called Tobacco Free Olympics concept jointly adopted by the World Health Organization and the International Olympic Committee in 2010.
In a 2015 report, the WHO judged Japan’s effort to eradicate secondhand smoke as among the weakest, citing a lack of legislation to ensure smoke-free environments in public places such as health care facilities, restaurants and public transport.
An extensive hearing conducted by the health ministry last year revealed concerns from owners of small-scale restaurants that they cannot afford to install segregated smoking rooms as proposed by the ministry’s October draft.
First published in The Japan Times on Feb. 1.
One-minute chat about “how I refresh myself.”
Collect words related to health, e.g., organic, exercise, sleep.
1) ban: to prohibit or forbid, e.g., “We should ban nuclear weapons.”
2) segregate: to separate from others, e.g., “They segregate the sick children.”
3) eradicate: to remove or destroy completely, e.g., “We should eradicate crime.”
Guess the headline
H_ _ _ _ _ ministry gears up for possible ban on s_ _ _ _ _ _ in public areas
1) What measure is being considered?
2) Under the revised law, what would happen to business operators who don’t take the necessary measures against smoking?
3) Do international organizations think Japan is doing enough to combat secondhand smoke?
Let’s discuss the article
1) Do you or those around you smoke?
2) What do you think about the idea behind the proposed new law?
3) What could be done to improve things for smokers and/or nonsmokers?
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