Smoking ban in public places in Japan - adverse legacy of the 2020 Olympic Paralympic Games?
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National Cancer Center, Japan
Japan Association for Development of Community Medicine, Japan
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A166
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Although Japan is a nation where the world first epidemiological evidence on the health effect of secondhand smoke was produced, no indoor smoking ban was realized on a national level. In 2013, Tokyo was selected as the city of 2020 Olympic Paralympic Games, since when the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) and various concerned parties have been working to realize smoking ban in public places. However, as of July, 2017, the legislation has been unsuccessful. We chronologically reviewed the related events to clarify underlying obstacles to the legislation.

Events related to the movement of the national smoking ban in Japan were extracted from the internet and public available data sources. The concerned bodies were classified into five categories (academic/medical, administration, politics, industry, and advocacy), and chronological relations were analyzed.

Academic/medical and administrative bodies closely collaborated and effectively released scientific rationale of smoking ban in 2016. The MHLW's draft policy released in Mar. 2017 included an exception of smoking ban for restaurants and bars (allowing designated smoking rooms). However, even this partial banning policy was faced with fierce objections from the allied industry including restaurant, hotel businesses and tobacco industry. Diet members in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party acted in a coordinated manner; reportedly 90% of the Diet members attending the party committee on health, labour and welfare objected to the MHLW's draft policy. The allied industry spread a signature collecting activity earlier and much more organizationally than academic/medical and advocacy groups. The party committee of the LDP was held only twice. Although the MHLW proposed a temporary amendment, the committee failed to reach an agreement.

The series of events suggest that the tobacco lobbies are more powerful in the policy-making process in Japan than tobacco control advocates.

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