Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo is contemplating a complete smoking ban before female giant panda cub Xiang Xiang goes on public view in December — the first Tokyo zoo to do so, its operator said.

“With the announcement of the panda cub, we’re expecting a surge in the number of visitors,” Tokyo Zoological Park Society official Takahiro Kogo said Monday.

Kogo explained, however, that the move has been under consideration for some time to deal with secondhand cigarette smoke in parks across Tokyo.

Kogo said Kasai Rinkai Park in Tokyo’s Edogawa Ward, Inokashira Park in the city of Musashino and Tama Zoological Park in the city of Hino were considering following suit.

The parks, part of a project tasked with strengthening smoke-free policies, are also considering a complete smoking ban.

The decision will be made in cooperation with officials from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. But all parks operated by the park society can introduce such rules on their own. Ueno Zoological Gardens, or Ueno Zoo, is likely to become the first of the four parks to prohibit smoking.

“If we can’t make it a complete ban, we are considering measures such as improved smoking cabins that won’t leak smoke outside,” Kogo said.

The move coincides with Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike’s push for a smoking ban in Tokyo ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games. The Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly on Oct. 5 approved an ordinance aimed at protecting children from inhaling passive smoke, urging property owners to make efforts to ban smoking.

Meanwhile, the Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association said that although it was not planning to introduce a complete ban in Tokyo’s public parks, it has been warning visitors to mind their manners, an official said by phone.

Hiroko Sano, an official with the metropolitan government’s construction bureau, said the city would continue to advise visitors to refrain from smoking in crowded areas or when expectant mothers or children are nearby. The city has been promoting the campaign since 2005 in line with the health ministry’s guidelines on passive smoking.

Complete smoking bans have already been introduced at facilities in other parts of the country, including Kobe’s Oji Zoo in Hyogo Prefecture, which like Ueno Zoo, has bred giant pandas since 2000. Shizuoka Municipal Nihondaira Zoo in Shizuoka Prefecture also bans smoking.

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