Heat-not-burn tobacco may not be part of Tokyo smoking law

JIJI, Staff Report

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is considering excluding heat-not-burn tobacco products from the scope of a planned ordinance to rein in passive smoking, sources have said.

The metropolitan government received a number of public comments opposing the inclusion of the products, since their impact on health has not been scientifically proven, the sources added.

The planned ordinance, which will carry a penalty for noncompliance, will basically ban smoking inside restaurants and drinking establishments.

It will also prohibit smoking in public office and university buildings, as well as on the premises of elementary, middle and high schools and hospitals. Violators will be subject to a fine of up to ¥50,000.

The metropolitan government also plans to prohibit smoking on public transportation, including taxis and buses, but designated smoking areas aboard trains and ships will be allowed.

The metropolitan government aims to submit the ordinance to the Tokyo Assembly in February so that it will enter into force ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Initially, the ordinance was to cover heat-not-burn products, together with cigarettes and cigars, under a basic plan the metropolitan government presented in September.

During the public comment period, the metropolitan government received 16,972 opinions on the ordinance from 5,085 citizens in and outside Tokyo.

Of the total, 6,464 opinions supported the push, while 5,007 were opposed. Those partly against the ordinance numbered 3,185.

To date, only Kanagawa and Hyogo prefectures have introduced similar ordinances.

According to a 2016 health ministry white paper on tobacco, the number of deaths resulting from exposure to secondhand smoke totals about 15,000 each year.