Anti-smoking bill leaves scope of ban-exempted restaurants undecided

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A sign sticker reading “Smoking allowed” is displayed outside an “izakaya” pub in Tokyo.  Photo: REUTERS

The government has drafted legislation for regulating passive smoking that would ban smoking basically at all frequently used public spaces, but left undecided how small restaurants should be to be the exception to the rule, sources close to the matter say.

The government had originally planned to submit a relevant bill to revise the Health Promotion Law to the previous ordinary Diet session that ended in June but failed to do so due to discord between the health ministry and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party over how strictly an indoor smoking ban should be applied to restaurants.

The government and the LDP have come under heavy pressure from the tobacco and restaurant industries, which have expressed reservations about stronger anti-smoking measures.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has insisted that indoor smoking at restaurants should basically be banned at all restaurants, excluding small bars and other establishments with a floor space of up to 30 square meters, while the LDP preferred looser regulation.

The LDP, led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, supports legislation that would allow indoor smoking at restaurants with a floor space of up to 150 square meters as long as they put up a sign that smoking is allowed inside the restaurants or that smoking is allowed only at a separate area within the establishments.

The recently compiled draft bill to revise the law does not stipulate the size of restaurants within which indoor smoking would be allowed as an exception, as the government plans to stipulate the matter in a future government ordinance.

The envisioned revision to the Health Promotion Law is expected to take effect within two years after promulgation, and the government intends to settle the matter by then.

The government is seeking to introduce such anti-passive smoking legislation before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics as the International Olympic Committee and the World Health Organization are seeking smoke-free Olympic Games.

Recent host countries of the Olympics have restricted indoor smoking at restaurants and other public spaces under law or ordinance that comes with a penalty in case of breaking it.

The WHO has regarded Japan’s anti-passive smoking measures as being at one of the worst levels in the world.

The draft legislation would ban smoking basically at all frequently used public spaces. It would prohibit facility managers from placing ash trays and require them to make a good-faith effort to stop smoking within their facilities.

Those who violate the law would receive an advisory from a prefectural governor to obey the rule and if they keep breaking the law, they would be fined.

Under the envisioned legislation, medical facilities and elementary and higher-level schools will be smoke-free within their entire premises, while universities, nursing care facilities for the elderly, gymnasiums and government offices will be subject to a ban on indoor smoking.

Guest rooms at hotels and inns, and homes occupied by individuals would not be subject to the smoking ban.

The draft legislation calls for a review of the proposed smoking ban within five years after the law revision takes effect.




Source  :  Japan Today

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