It’s doubtful that the health ministry’s latest plan to protect people from the hazards of secondhand smoke will have its intended effect. The plan — which will form the basis of a bill the government intends to propose as early as March — takes a big step back from the ministry’s original initiative to ban indoor smoking in all public spaces.
The apparent concession to the tobacco lobby within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party is likely intended to get the measure implemented in time for the 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo. But the ministry should reconsider whether the planned steps will indeed have any meaningful impact against secondhand smoking, which is estimated to cause 15,000 deaths each year.
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