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Following Tokyo’s lead, more cities eye tougher rules against passive smoking

JIJI

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s decision to introduce measures against passive smoking that are stricter than the central government’s has inspired more cities to do the same, a survey has found.

Of the 20 ordinance-designated cities surveyed, Chiba, for example, plans to draft its own ordinance against passive smoking, and Hamamatsu, Osaka and Sakai are considering joining prefecture-level efforts to tighten related regulations, the Jiji Press survey of municipality chiefs, which also covered cities and wards in Tokyo, shows.

In June this year, Tokyo, as the host city for the Olympics, enacted an ordinance to introduce tougher smoking regulations for restaurants and bars than the watered-down law enacted by the state for the Olympics.

While the state law permits smoking in restaurants with up to 100 sq. meters of customer space, Tokyo’s ordinance imposes a smoking ban on all eateries with employees, in principle, regardless of the amount of floor space.

Kobe said the state should introduce measures that are stricter than Tokyo’s, such as a total smoking ban for all restaurants and bars.

Chiba and Kawasaki will also urge the state to toughen its rules. They want to prohibit indoor smoking at eateries with employees just as Tokyo does.

Hiroshi Yamato, professor at the University of Occupational and Environmental Health, Japan, said it stands to reason that Tokyo took a tougher line than the state because it is effectively hosting the Olympics.

“Efforts by many municipalities may eventually move the state,” Yamato said.

In Tokyo, a combined 41 wards and cities, or 85 percent of all municipalities in the metropolis, said they have enacted ordinances or taken measures to prevent smoking on the street, the survey shows.

In the meantime, only seven municipalities said they are positively considering setting up outdoor smoking areas to cope with the tightening of indoor smoking rules.

Twenty wards and cities said they will carefully examine whether street smoking will increase.

Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward showed concern about the possibility of smokers flowing outdoors, while the city of Hachioji called on the state and the metro government to work on creating a system that can ensure the prevention of passive smoking.