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Anti-tobacco group chides Olympic minister over smoking areas for Tokyo 2020

Minister in charge of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games Shunichi Suzuki (Mainichi)

The Japan Society for Tobacco Control released a statement on Aug. 10 demanding Shunichi Suzuki, the minister for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, retract a statement about allowing designated smoking areas rather than making the games smoke-free.

"His actions stab the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in the back," the Japan Society for Tobacco Control complaint states. "It is an international problem, where athletes and several hundred thousand spectators from around the world will be exposed to secondhand smoke. Protecting the policy of a complete ban on indoor smoking is the duty of the minister in charge of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games."

The IOC and the WHO have been promoting smoke-free Olympic and Paralympic Games. In April this year, the WHO deputy director general and the director of the Department for Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases submitted a request from the director general to the Japanese government to ban all smoking in indoor spaces by 2020.

In comments to the press on Aug. 9, Suzuki demanded that the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare -- which has been pushing to ban smoking in all restaurants and related establishments -- to "coordinate opinions with the ruling coalition." He also said of anti-secondhand smoke measures for the Tokyo Games that, "instead of a total ban on smoking in principle, separate smoking areas should be thoroughly implemented."

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