For centuries, smoking in Japan has not been regulated and subject to few or no legal restrictions. Some studies suggest that over 25% of the total population in Japan smokes and cigarettes had long been available in vending machines where even minors could buy them. 21st century policies have somewhat changed laws, and some believe that new laws are a precursor to the ban on smoking in all public places, nationally.

The tobacco industry has historically exerted a considerable influence on smoking laws in Japan. While the United States, the UK and Europe began to pass increasingly strict smoking laws, Japan maintained the policies allowed and did not spend much time enforcing the laws they had in force. In 1999, the Ministry of Health of Japan set the goal of reducing smoking rates by 50% within 11 years, although they were not very successful. After joining the efforts of the World Health Organization to stop tobacco use in 2004, smoking in Japan has become much more difficult, but it is not illegal.

One of the first major changes was the implementation of identification scans in vending machines that sell cigarettes. These scans help to ensure that no one under the age of 20 can buy tobacco products. In 2008, the machines began to include a facial scan that could determine the age group, to prevent children from using someone else’s ID card.

A frequent complaint from tourists in Japan is that there are no non-smoking sections in restaurants. Many non-Japanese chains, such as Starbucks, have chosen to establish smoking ban policies at their Japanese locations. Some Japanese cities and regions are considering the adoption of the smoking ban in restaurants, but no national law has been passed.

In Tokyo and Hiroshima, smoking is prohibited in many streets and outdoor places. Tobacco companies have carefully provided ashtrays for communities in the few areas where smoking is still allowed. Tokyo’s major taxi companies have also banned smoking in taxis. Many public trains across Japan now offer cars for smokers and non-smokers, and this is said to be quite well applied, depending on the area you are in.

Recently, author Dave Sedaris decided to quit smoking by moving to Hiroshima for several months, where smoking is prohibited in most public places. His resulting book, When You are Engulfed in Flames, notes the relative kindness of warnings about smoking in Japan compared to warnings in other countries. His analysis agrees with most people who are against smoking in Japan, that health risks are not taken seriously enough.

If you are a smoker and plan to visit Japan, check the local laws. Although there is no national smoking ban in Japan, many large cities have strict policies that regulate the places where smoking can occur. Most laws in Japan are strictly enforced and the recautious visitor may find himself subject to large monetary fines if he is caught violating local smoking laws.

Alessio Mattarese
Author: Alessio Mattarese

Mi definiscono un imprenditore digitale ma sono semplicemente un sognatore .

Mi definiscono un imprenditore digitale ma sono semplicemente un sognatore .

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