A health ministry panel unveiled a report Wednesday calling for a 100% ban on smoking in indoor public spaces including restaurants.
In the report, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare warned that passive smoking definitely increases the risk of lung cancer.
The move comes as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has expressed eagerness to combat passive smoking in Japan ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics and Paralympics.
The report—called the “Tobacco White Paper”—is the first revision of the current version in 15 years.
In the report, the ministry for the first time categorizes the causal links between diseases and secondhand smoking into four risk levels, based on past data.
The causal links between passive smoking and diseases such as lung cancer, cardiac infarction, cerebral embolism and child asthma are ranked at Level 1, the riskiest level.
Until now, the health ministry has simply said a complete ban on smoking is preferable in all public places, but the report said that setting up smoking rooms does not prevent the leakage of cigarette smoke and even causes passive smoking effects among cleaning staff.
Japan should “aim at a 100% ban on smoking indoors” instead of setting up smoking rooms, the report said.
The report referred to the World Health Organization estimate showing secondhand smoking has caused around 15,000 deaths annually in Japan, making the nation one of the worst regarding prevention measures against passive smoking.