KOBE -- An advisory panel of experts proposed to Hyogo Gov. Toshizo Ido on Dec. 14 that the western Japan prefecture introduce punishments for those who take children or pregnant women to restaurants and drinking establishments allowing smoking, and for people smoking in public spaces such as parks.
The prefectural government intends to submit revisions to its passive smoking regulation ordinance to the prefectural assembly in February next year, so that the protective measures for children and pregnant women can be implemented. If the changes are approved, Hyogo will be the first local body in Japan to punish patrons of establishments where smoking is permitted.
The panel proposed banning smoking by guardians in front of children even when they are in private spaces such as homes or family cars. They also called for smoking prohibitions at parks, events with children participating, and areas around schools, among other places.
The panel stopped short of seeking punishments for violators in private spaces due to privacy considerations, but requested that the Hyogo government consider making smoking punishable in all other pertinent cases.
Under the revised Health Promotion Act to be fully implemented in April 2020, existing eateries and bars with a floor space of 100 square meters or less may allow their clients to smoke inside as long as they post a relevant notice on the storefront. The Hyogo expert panel proposed that those establishments be obligated to put up another sign saying children are not allowed inside, and should be punished for noncompliance.
The health law bans minors from entering smoking rooms to avoid passive smoking. The Osaka Prefectural Government, also in western Japan, has an ordinance requiring smokers to make an effort not to smoke in living spaces, as well as public spaces such as parks, hospitals and school commuting routes that children are expected to use.
Gov. Ido said he hopes to spearhead the banning of smoking in public places in Japan, adding that he will review ordinance revisions "based on the (panel's) proposal."
(Japanese original by Motohiro Inoue, Kobe Bureau)