Government on a mission to eliminate secondhand smoking ahead of Olympics, health minister says


The health minister on Friday described the elimination of secondhand cigarette smoke as the government’s “mission” and pledged efforts to curb public smoking ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Speaking at a news conference, Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki said other host countries had adopted smoking regulations and penalties in recent years and emphasized that reducing cigarette smoke is “a big trend across the world.”

The health ministry hopes to submit a bill to revise the Health Promotion Law and potentially ban smoking in all indoor public spaces when the Diet opens next Friday.

In its Tobacco White Paper released last year, the health ministry acknowledged that secondhand smoke definitely raises the risk of lung cancer.

On Thursday, restaurant industry groups voiced opposition to banning smoking in restaurants and argued that Japan should aim to become a leading country in promoting separate smoking areas.

Shiozaki, however, shrugged them off and said it is important to protect people from secondhand smoke with an eye to increasing visitors to Japan.

The report said setting up sealed smoking rooms does not prevent cigarette smoke from leaking to the general public and effects employees tasked with cleaning up those areas.

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