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Smoking in Japan and the new tobacco rule

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Smoking in Japan and the new tobacco rule

The new smoking rule in Japan has been put into effects. But do you know what are the changes?

Waku Waku

Waku Waku

Published on 16 Jul 2020, 12:00

In accordance with the laws in Japan, indoor smoking has been prohibited from April 2020.

When you hear this, you may be in doubts as "what does it actually mean?" "so outdoor smoking is more preferable in Japan now?".

This article focuses on the smoking rules in Japan. It would be helpful to review the information concerning smoking in Japan for both smokers and non-smokers.

Banning "indoor smoking"

From April this year, indoor smoking is basically not allowed in all cases in Japan. In other words, smoking henceforth is prohibited in restaurants, offices, lobby area in hotels and so on.

Before this point of time, indoor smoking in Japan had been taken measures by their own rules. It could be managed by the owners or the building managers, thus it was separated into smoking and non-smoking areas in restaurants and workplaces, as they wanted.

However, with the renewal legislation this time, the whole of Japan would conform to the banning of indoor smoking.

Those who know very well about the smoking in Japan may feel “Eh?” when hearing this news.

A smoking area outside
A smoking area outside

What was "smoking in Japan" like before?

Rules in Japan used to fundamentally focus on outdoor smoking in the past.

Smoking has been prohibited in crowded public areas, like around train stations or parks, etc. Penalties were even imposed on those smoking while walking, smoking on the street or littering too.

Have you ever seen a sign of smoking area as the image above? This is a limited area where you are allowed to smoke in such public area. Since outside smoking was prohibited, the smoking area were built, and those who smoke have been encouraged to smoke in here.

Japan started with this "Outdoor smoking regulation", at first. And while maintaining this law, they now have brought in the new rule about "Smoke-free indoors".

Japan is strict about smoking? Or easy?

In addition to outdoor areas, Japan also has restriction rules on indoor smoking. This fact may make you feel that Japan as an immensely strict country for smoking.

Some other countries, in fact, have applied rules of banning indoor smoking much earlier than Japan but there is still a myriad of places that allow smoking as long as you are outdoor.

Tobacco products in a convenience store
Tobacco products in a convenience store

By the new rule, smokers and non-smokers are now able to clearly be classified so it is much easier for everyone to understand the points and how to behave in terms of smoking.

If you are a non-smoker, you are able to stay away from smoking areas if you want to avoid secondhand tobacco smokes. In the view of non-smoking people, Japan may become a nice country if compared to other countries where people are allowed to smoke with no restrictions.

You can actually smoke indoors...

Indoor smoking is already banned but it does not mean that you cannot smoke at all. You can actually smoke in designated smoking areas.

Many smoking rooms have been set up in separated areas but of course, it does not count cigarette bars or any other places in which the basic purpose is for smoking.

A large number of restaurants had divided into smoking and non-smoking area by that time. As a result, they do not perceive it as a difference when the law is changed.

Smoking area signs
Smoking area signs

There are 4 types of smoking facilities. It looks complicated to read, but please understand this way:

  • Designated smoking room available: Basically smoking is not allowed, but there is a small smoking room for smokers, so please smoke there
  • Designated heated smoking room available: There is a separated area for electrically-heated tobacco smokers
  • Smoking room available: Smoking is available, because it is cigarette bar or smoking purposed bar
  • Smoking room available: There is a separated area for smokers

(*The rule above has not been implemented too small-sized restaurants)

Actually, from April 2020, all stores or buildings have a sign at the entrance. As soon as you see the sign, you know whether this place is tobacco-free or not. In case you are not sure about it, feel free to ask the staffs.

In order to avoid secondhand smoke or when you are with kids, you can also choose a place based on this distinct sign.

Nevertheless, please note that all hospitals, government facilities are completely non-smoking (from 2019).

Some people smoke while others don’t. We think it may be much alike in all countries. In this article, we have introduced the main point of smoking in Japan and its measurements for both groups to co-exist. So, how about your country?

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