Smoker-friendly Japan mulls restrictions ahead of 2020 Olympics

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Tokyo (dpa) – Smoking could get tougher in Japan ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, as members of the ruling party outlined a bill to restrict the practice in public places, a report said Thursday.

Japan is one of the more smoker-friendly countries, with people often seen lighting up in bars, fast food restaurants and coffee shops, despite some recent restrictions.

The legislation outlined by a group within Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party would ban smoking in all schools and hospitals, and impose non-smoking areas in hotels and restaurants, Jiji Press reported.

Traditionally heavy-smoking countries such as China and Russia introduced wider restrictions on tobacco when they hosted the Beijing 2008 summer games and the Sochi 2014 winter events, respectively.

Smoking in Japan is falling, from 38 per cent of men in 2010 to 36 per cent in 2012, according to World Bank data. Women smoking carries social stigma, and only one in 10 is estimated to do so.

The country has seen some restrictions in the past decade, in particular on smoking in open spaces around major cities. Smoking was banned in government offices in the 2003 Health Promotion Law, but it remains more widespread than in most developped economies.

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