On Wednesday, the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly—Tokyo’s Governing Body—passed an ordinance that will strengthen regulations that prohibit smoking in many Tokyo establishments.
Most Americans are accustomed to laws against smoking (and second-hand smoking) in public establishments, such as restaurants, bars, and businesses. It’s very common to see smokers standing outside of these places in all kinds of crazy weather, including rain and snow–they just can’t kick the habit. So first-time visitors to Japan tend to be surprised by how many people smoke in Japan, and are shocked by the fact that they are smoking in restaurants and bars!
Well, thanks to Tokyo’s new ordinance, that is going to change very soon.
The ordinance bans smoking at all eating and drinking establishments with at least one employee—no matter how big or how small the business is. Think about that for a minute. If a business in Tokyo has ANY employees, then it has to follow this law. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government estimates that 84 percent of eating and drinking establishments in Tokyo will be affected—though I would think that this number is closer to 100 percent. And of course, the goal is that this ban will be fully-implemented by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
But don’t worry smoke-addicts, Japan isn’t going to make you stand outside in a tsunami to get your smoking fix, as the ordinance allows businesses to have smoking rooms. I’m assuming that this will be the small room that is filled in a thick cloud of nicotine–so you can’t miss it!
Another part of the ordinance will prohibit smoking at kindergartens, day cares, elementary schools, junior-high schools, and high schools. First of all, I’m surprised that they even had to include school bans in this ordinance. Really, what kind of person starts smoking in a kindergarten!
My only concern with the ordinance is that it doesn’t have “teeth”, as fines of 50,000 yen ($455 US Dollars) or less will be issued to those that violate the ordinance. That’s really not a lot of money for most bigger businesses.
In any event, I’m glad that Japan is making a real effort to ban smoking in public establishments and schools, as it will hopefully further their effort to decrease the number of smokers in Japan. I definitely support anything that will make people healthier and happier!
See you soon!