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Japan looks to totally ban smoking at public facilities ahead of Olympics

Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The health ministry has proposed a total ban on smoking at public facilities including central and local government office buildings, hospitals and other medical institutions, and schools to help prevent passive smoking in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

Restaurants and some other facilities will be obliged to at least separate smoking and nonsmoking areas.

The proposal also includes penalties against violators.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry aims to submit a related bill to the Diet at an early date, after hearing opinions from organizations concerned and others.

According to the proposal, which was unveiled on Wednesday, smoking would be prohibited in public buildings used by a number of people, including those of central and local government agencies, schools, and social welfare and sports facilities.

In particular, smoking should be banned at all premises of medical institutions, and elementary, junior high and high schools, to prevent damage to the health of patients and minors.

For restaurants and hotel lobbies, operators would be required to fully ban smoking or separate smoking and nonsmoking areas. Smoking would be totally prohibited on buses and taxis, while a total ban or the separation of smoking and nonsmoking areas should be applied to trains and ships.

Guest rooms of hotels would not be subject to the new passive smoking prevention rules.

Users of public facilities would be obliged not to smoke at banned places. Facility operators would have to indicate areas, if any, where smoking is allowed. Violators would receive recommendations or orders from authorities, and those who refuse to comply would be fined or face other penalties.

The International Olympic Committee and the World Health Organization have agreed to promote tobacco-free Olympic and Paralympic Games.

All host countries of recent Olympics and Paralympics put into place smoking restrictions with penalties, but Japan’s measures against secondhand smoke are less stringent.

“The ideal way is to ban smoking at all areas inside buildings, a measure taken by Britain, but we believe that it is realistic to allow smoking areas to be set up at some facilities, as in South Korea,” a health ministry official said.Speech

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