2020 Olympics’ legacy for tobacco control in Japan
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Smoke Free 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Chris Rathbone   

Smoke Free 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Publication date: 2019-10-12
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2019;17(Suppl 1):A5
Tobacco control advocates in Japan face a difficult struggle. Not only can the tobacco industry can easily influence the public and lobby politicians but due the Japanese government holding one-third of the shares of Japan Tobacco (JT), tobacco executives can easily access the highest levels of government. Due to this high level of tobacco industry interference, Japan has weak enforcement in all aspects for MPOWER model except perhaps for smoking cessation support despite having ratified the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. JT is the third largest tobacco multinational company in the world with key brands of Winston’s, Camel’s, Benson & Hedges and Mevius (Mild Seven). JT uses Japanese government offices and agencies to influence regulation and acquire access to markets and working from its solid base in Japan where it is lightly regulated and immune from health litigation, JT seems to be destined to the main competitor for Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco for the near future. Therefore, Japan’s tobacco policy should be a major concern for tobacco control advocates worldwide. In recent years, health professional groups in Japan have come to support tobacco control, but there is little support outside of the health community. Key reasons are tobacco industry control of both public and private media and CSR activities resulting in tobacco industry allies having influence in non-profit and non-governmental organizations. 2020 Olympics to be held in Tokyo represent an opportunity for stronger tobacco control in Japan with secondhand smoke protection as the first step. Already the national government has made limited secondhand smoke protection measures mandatory and Tokyo and other local government have passed stricter ordinances mandating the banning of smoking in public spaces. The immediate positive effect is that many universities have become completely smoke free and some prominent companies are smoke free or plan to become smoke free shortly. In these circumstances, I have started an on-line group working through social media (Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook) with the goal of supporting anti-tobacco activities with an emphasis on secondhand smoke protection and drawing international support for tobacco control efforts in Japan.
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