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YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) Kanagawa has become the first prefecture to have a no-smoking ordinance covering such public facilities as hospitals, schools and government offices as well as requiring larger restaurants and hotels to choose between banning smoking or demarcating areas where people can light up.

Despite its breadth, the ordinance is a watered-down version of Gov. Shigefumi Matsuzawa’s original proposal for a total ban on smoking in public places. The new law exempts small restaurants and hotels and suspends penalties for some violators for one year.

The ordinance, passed by the prefectural assembly Tuesday, will come into force in April 2010.

Matsuzawa first proposed an antismoking ordinance last April, seeking a total ban on smoking in public facilities, including restaurants, pachinko parlors and “ryokan” inns.

But operators of such facilities came out strongly against it, and the prefectural assembly’s health and welfare subcommittee eventually adopted the toned-down bill in February.

The measure merely asks operators of smaller facilities “to make efforts” to establish separate nonsmoking areas.

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