Japan, Kanagawa Prefecture to ban smoking on beaches..

March 22, 2010 - Back in March 2009 the Kanagawa prefectural assembly 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.) Kanagawa Area Highlights..

Now we find the Kanagawa Prefecture on Friday, March 19th became the first of Japan's 47 prefectures to adopt a local ordinance banning smoking on swimming beaches outside of designated areas. At the municipal level, the hot-spa resort cities of Atami in Shizuoka Prefecture and Shirahama in Wakayama Prefecture have already adopted similar ordinances banning smoking on swimming beaches.

On Friday, the Kanagawa prefectural assembly unanimously voted at a plenary session to approve the ordinance. The prefectural government plans to promulgate (to make known by open declaration) the ordinance later this month at the earliest and to enforce it from the start of this year's summer swimming season.

But the ordinance does not set any penalties for violation because of opposition from some assembly members. The prefectural government has said it will review the ordinance once every three years and study the possible imposition of penalties.

Prefectural government officials said there are around 30 swimming beaches in Kanagawa Prefecture that represent important tourism resources. Among them are popular spots such as Katase beach near Enoshima Island, the Yuigahama and Zaimokuza beaches in the ancient city of Kamakura and Miura Kaigan beach on the Miura Peninsula.

Kanagawa Gov. Shigefumi Matsuzawa said the imposition of a smoking ban on swimming beaches would result in less trash and prevent damage to health from passive smoking as well as burn injuries.

Reference: Kanagawa Prefecture to ban smoking on beaches+, Associated Press, 3/19/2010.

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