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I read with interest the story “Health ministry unveils draft plan to combat passive smoking” in the Oct. 14 edition.

It must happen long before 2020 or the government will receive bulk legal action from residents, employees and tourists who have developed cancer from passive smoking in Japanese restaurants and public places.

I have been visiting Japan for around a month every few years over 30 years. When I go to most restaurants in Japan and ask if the restaurant is smoke-free, they respond by saying: “That side is smoke-free and the other side of the restaurant is smoking.” This is the one thing that I do not like about Japan — smoking is allowed in restaurants.

Vietnam, Korea, China, countries across Europe and Australia are among those countries and regions where no smoking is allowed in restaurants.

So why is Japan lagging behind the rest of the industrialized world and still allowing smoking in restaurants and in many hospitality personnel’s workplaces? Allowing smoking in restaurants is just not an acceptable practice.

When I was in Osaka and Tokyo last week, I could not find a smoke-free restaurant. I am allergic to cigarette smoke and will get severe asthma when I am exposed to cigarette smoke.

So when I am staying at a hotel, I either have to eat supermarket food or convenience store food. I cannot go to 10 or 20 restaurants trying to find a smoke-free venue.

If Japan wants to consider its tourists as well as its locals who do not want to breathe in the multiple poisons in tobacco smoke, it needs to ban smoking in restaurants now and not four years from now leading up to the Olympics.

CAROLE GOLDSMITH
ELSTERNWICK, AUSTRALIA

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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