National / Politics

Tokyo lawmakers seek smoke-free Olympics with new, stricter legislation

JIJI

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has decided to submit a bill to the metropolitan assembly in June that is aimed at curtailing passive smoking, a key step toward making the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in the capital smoke-free.

The metropolitan government hopes to fully implement the ordinance, which calls for a blanket ban on smoking in restaurants and bars no matter the number of employees and regardless of size before the games start in July 2020.

The measure is stricter than a national bill also aimed at revising the smoking law that was submitted by the health ministry to the current Diet session.

The national bill exempts establishments with eating and drinking areas of 100 square meters or less from the legislation.

The number of restaurants and bars that would fall under the indoor smoking ban stands at 84 percent in the metropolitan government’s bill, much higher than the 45 percent in the central government’s proposal.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike has expressed her eagerness to enforce the envisaged ordinance, saying that she wants to have measures that can deliver a real impact.

But the metropolitan government’s bill has drawn opposition from an industry group representing small eateries. An executive of the group has called for revising the bill, saying it could force some establishments out of business.

In the assembly, the Koike’s Tomin First no Kai (Tokyoites First), the largest party, is backing the metropolitan government’s plan. But the Liberal Democratic Party is expected to take a confrontational stance over the bill.

Whether the anti-smoking ordinance will enter into effect hinges on Komeito, the LDP’s ruling coalition partner in national politics, pundits said.

A senior Komeito official said the party would “carefully examine the bill.”

In 2010, the International Olympic Committee and the World Health Organization agreed to promote smoke-free Olympics. Banning indoor smoking at competition venues, hotels and eateries has been a norm in host cities.