• Kyodo

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Staff at city-run schools here will no longer be permitted to smoke on school grounds beginning April in order to protect children from secondhand smoke, Sendai Mayor Hajimu Fujii said Tuesday.

The ban will be enforced at 195 education institutions, ranging from kindergartens to high schools and including schools for physically and mentally impaired children.

“All kinds of smoke will be eliminated from the (school) compounds,” Fujii said. “Even the separation of smoking and nonsmoking areas will not be allowed.”

Parents and guests to the schools will also be barred from lighting up, he said.

The first six months through September will be used to publicize the new rule. The ban will be firmly in place when the second semester begins on Oct. 14, 2003.

It will be the first time in Japan that a complete smoking ban has been enforced at kindergartens, according to the Sendai municipal board of education.

A similar smoking ban at public schools was introduced throughout Wakayama Prefecture this academic year. Utsunomiya in Tochigi Prefecture is also planning to introduce a ban at its public schools beginning next school year.

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