National / Social Issues

Ministry considers smoking ban exception for small bars, clubs, restaurants

Kyodo

The health ministry is considering allowing smoking in small bars, clubs and restaurants as exceptions to anti-smoking regulations that are being contemplated, ministry sources said Wednesday.

The move comes after the restaurant industry voiced opposition to a comprehensive smoking ban that may be imposed ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry plans to submit to parliament during the current Diet session revisions to the Health Promotion Law to prevent secondhand smoke, and has worked out two ideas for possible exceptions to the planned nonsmoking rule, the sources said.

One is to allow smoking in bars and nightclubs with floor space of no more than 30 square meters on the condition that a sign is displayed at the entrance indicating smoking is allowed inside and a ventilator is installed.

The other is to allow smoking also inside certain types of small restaurants serving alcohol.

Smoking in restaurants serving customers of all ages would be prohibited under both proposals, they said.

Restaurant industry groups held a meeting in Tokyo in January and expressed opposition to a total ban, saying that would drive small operations out of business. They said Japan should aim to become a leading country in promoting separate smoking areas.