Japan mulls smoking ban exception for small bars, clubs and restaurants

The Japan's health ministry is considering allowing smoking in small bars, clubs and restaurants as exceptions to a contemplated smoking ban, ministry sources said Wednesday.

The move comes after the restaurant industry voiced opposition to a comprehensive smoking ban being imposed ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry plans to submit to parliament during the current Diet session revisions to the Health Promotion Law to prevent secondhand smoke, and has worked out two ideas for possible exceptions to the planned nonsmoking rule, the sources said.

One is to allow smoking in bars and nightclubs with floor space of no more than 30 square meters on the condition that a sign is displayed at the entrance indicating smoking is allowed inside and a ventilator is installed.

The other is to allow smoking also inside certain types of small restaurants offering alcohol.

Smoking in restaurants serving customers of all ages would be prohibited under either idea, they said.

Japanese restaurant industry groups held a meeting in Tokyo in January and expressed opposition to a total ban, saying that would drive small operations into closing. They said Japan should aim to become a leading country in promoting separate smoking areas.

Source: mainichi.jp