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Groups seek signatures opposing blanket smoking ban in Tokyo restaurants

Groups including a Tokyo restaurant association have started collecting signatures opposing a blanket ban on smoking in restaurants in the capital, in connection with an ordinance against passive smoking that the metropolitan government plans to submit to the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, possibly by the end of March next year.

    The Tokyo restaurant business life hygiene trade association and others involved in the petition are calling for the operators of restaurants to be allowed to freely decide whether their establishments should ban smoking, have separate areas for smokers and nonsmokers, or allow smoking; as well as for customers to be able to choose restaurants depending on their smoking rules.

    In September, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government released the draft of an ordinance that would ban smoking indoors at restaurants in principle with the exception of bars and "snack" style pubs with a floor space of 30 square meters or less. The restaurant association and other industry groups have collected signatures since October.

    On Nov. 20, the groups collected signatures from pedestrians in two areas of Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward. Masahiko Tagawa, secretary-general of the Tokyo tobacco commerce federation of cooperatives, commented, "This has a direct impact on the lives of association members. We want officials to lend an ear to Tokyo residents and businesses, and carefully deliberate on the issue."

    One 61-year-old resident who provided his signature said he has smoked for 40 years.

    "Even now, I smoke properly in the designated places. I want them to separate smokers and nonsmokers in the future, too," he said.

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