Japan - Kanagawa - bans smoking in public places starting April 2010..

March 26, 2009 - The Kanagawa prefectural assembly on Tuesday approved an ordinance calling for a ban on smoking in public facilities such as hospitals, schools and government offices and requires restaurants and hotels to choose between becoming nonsmoking or creating separate smoking areas in a bid to prevent passive smoking. Kanagawa is the first of Japan’s 47 prefectures to regulate smoking in public places, including spaces operated by the private sector. (Kanagawa, with its capital of Yokohama, lies southeast of Tokyo and is Japan’s second-largest prefecture in terms of population with nearly 9 million people.)

The prefecture compiled a draft for the ordinance after seeking opinions and comments from the public and submit it to the prefectural assembly within the current fiscal year through March 2009.

The ordinance was toned down from Kanagawa Gov Shigefumi Matsuzawa’s original call for a total ban on smoking in public places, exempting small restaurants and hotels and suspending penalties for some violators for one year. The ordinance will come into force in April 2010. The ordinance classifies public facilities into two categories. One category includes schools, gymnasiums and outdoor sports arenas, hospitals and clinics, theaters, horse and cycle racetracks, department stores and shopping centers, central and local government offices, public transportation facilities such as railway stations and bus terminals, financial institutions, museums and social welfare facilities.

The second category covers restaurants and bars, hotels and ryokan inns, game halls including pachinko parlors, amusement arcades and karaoke boxes, and service facilities such as barber shops and beauty parlors.

The ordinance imposes a smoking ban on facilities in the first category and requires those in the second category to choose between becoming nonsmoking or creating separate smoking areas. Among facilities in the second category, restaurants and bars with floor spaces of up to 100 square meters, and hotels, ryokan inns and game halls with floor spaces of up to 700 square meters are exempt from the ordinance. The measure only requires operators of such small-scale facilities to ‘‘make efforts’’ to establish separate smoking and nonsmoking areas.

For violators, the ordinance sets fines of 20,000 yen ($203) for facility operators and 2,000 yen ($20.30) for smokers. Penalties will be imposed on first-category facilities immediately after the ordinance comes into force and for second-category places a year later.

In 2007 the overall rate of smokers in Japan slid to a new record of 26 percent of the adult population from 26.3 percent a year ago and has steadily dropped since 1996. The rate among Japanese men declined to 40.2 percent from 41.3 percent a year ago, but the rate among women edged up to 12.7 percent from 12.4 percent. (Japan's smoking rate declines to record low in 2007Associated Press - International Herald Tribune, 10/17/2007)

Japan’s health ministry will recommend smoking be banned in hospitals and on public transport, the Yomiuri newspaper said, without citing anyone. A total of 60 municipalities, whose residents make up 10 percent of Japan's population, have some form of regulation to ban or discourage people from smoking in public or tossing their cigarette butts on the ground, according to Japan Tobacco Inc. (MUNICIPALITIES TRY TO CURB PUFFERS Tokyo patrols snuff out public smoking by MINORU MATSUTANI - Kyodo News, The Japan Times, 1/6/2006.

Reference: Kanagawa adopts anti-smoking ordinance; 1st among 47 prefectures, Japan Today, 3/25/2009.

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