• Kyodo

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No one has been punished under the nation’s first punitive anti-smoking ordinance since it took effect in 2010, sources in the Kanagawa Prefectural Government said Saturday.

Despite logging around 1,000 violations a year, the prefectural government has not punished anyone so far — and won’t do so for the remainder of fiscal 2016 ending this month — to avoid hurting restaurants and other facilities, the sources said.

The trailblazing ordinance, drawn up to protect the public from passive smoking, drew nationwide attention to Kanagawa. It bans smoking in public places and certain restaurants with threats of fines ranging up to ¥20,000 for individuals and ¥50,000 for facility managers who break the rule.

Those tackling the scourge of say the ordinance should be enforced properly and actively to protect the public from cancer and other ills associated with passive smoking.

The ordinance bans smoking in public facilities including schools and hospitals, and orders restaurants with over 100 sq. meters of floor space and inns larger than 700 sq. meters to choose between going smoke-free or creating separate smoking spaces.

It also stipulates that authorities must conduct on-site inspections of such facilities and provide instructions and orders to their managers before penalizing them, but this has been widely ignored as well.

The sources said the prefectural government initially expected the facilities affected to voluntarily adhere to the ordinance once word had spread.

Violators fell after peaking at over 2,000 just after the ordinance took force but are now hovering around 1,000, with 1,156 logged at the end of fiscal 2013, 954 in fiscal 2014, and 961 in fiscal 2015.

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