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Tokyo to impose smoking and vaping ban at 2020 Olympics

Prohibition is tougher than regulations for last two summer games

Tom Batchelor
Thursday 28 February 2019 13:19 GMT
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Smoking is cheap in Japan compared with other developed countries
Smoking is cheap in Japan compared with other developed countries (Getty)

Visitors to next year’s Tokyo Olympics will face some of the toughest smoking restrictions of any Games after the organisers announced a total ban in a country known for its love of tobacco.

Smoking – including e-cigarettes – will be outlawed at all indoor and outdoor Olympic and Paralympic venues, including perimeter areas run by the Tokyo Games.

The prohibition is tougher than regulations for the last two Summer Olympics in London and Rio de Janeiro, Japanese authorities said.

At many sporting venues in Japan a designated smoking area is provided - however this will not be the case next summer.

The ban follows pressure from the International Olympic Committee to initiate public health policies – including improving air and water quality – before the games

Tokyo is still a smoker's heaven. Despite tougher laws enacted last year, smokers can light up in some restaurants and bars, and tobacco advertising is allowed on television.

Unlike the UK, cigarette packages do not contain graphic health warnings and tobacco is still cheap – a typical pack sells for around £3.70, compared to £10 in London and New York.

"Tokyo 2020 aims to leave a legacy of improved health for the county at large," organisers said in a statement.

Keiko Nakayama, a Tokyo government health official, added that “passive smoking has long been a concern” and said efforts linked to the Olympics would spur a new push to improve the health of city’s population.

The Japanese government has a large stake in tobacco. It owns a third of the stock and is the top investor in major cigarette company Japan Tobacco. The industry was a government monopoly until 1985, and is a huge source of tax revenue.

World Health Organisation data for 2015 showed around a third (32.7 per cent) of Japanese men smoke, compared with a quarter (24.4 per cent) in the US.

Countries with the highest figures include East Timor (78 per cent) and Indonesia (74.9 per cent); the lowest two were in Africa, with just over 7 per cent of men defined as smokers in Ethiopia and Ghana.

Additional reporting by agencies

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