With rules banning indoor smoking set to take effect in April under the revised Health Promotion Law, the Fukuoka Prefectural Assembly decided to set up smoking areas in its building from Oct. 1.
The policy to create separate smoking areas will bring drastic changes, especially for lawmakers currently allowed to smoke freely in waiting rooms for certain parliamentary groups.
The bill for the renovations is expected to come in at just over ¥1 million.
Smoking is banned in the assembly’s session rooms, but there are no particular rules for other parts of the facility. Although the building has three designated outdoor smoking areas, many enjoy smoking in its antechambers and meeting rooms.
From April, the assembly building will fall into the same category as eateries and other places where smoking is banned in principle. But the law allows exceptions in that category when rooms and offices meet certain criteria, such as having ventilation systems that prevent leakage or vent smoke outside.
The assembly’s steering committee began talks on the plan in August. Some members argued smoking should be banned throughout the building, given it is a public facility.
Then others pointed to the provision for exceptions, which led to the decision to renovate to accommodate the smokers.
A dedicated smoking area will be set up in a room on the second floor used as a lounge for executives and senior lawmakers. The room will be equipped with partitions and equipment to extract smoke, and visitors will be allowed to use it as well.
The administrative building adjacent to the assembly, however, will fall into a different category under the new law, which means smoking there will be banned from July, the indoor smoking rooms removed, and the employees forced to smoke outside.
Motoaki Yoshimatsu, chairman of the steering committee, confirmed that the new policy “is fully in line with the law.”
This section features topics and issues from the Kyushu region covered by the Nishinippon Shimbun, the largest daily newspaper in Kyushu. The original article was published on Oct. 1.