State of Smoking in Japan
Party to the world health organization framework convention on tobacco control (who FCTC):
Since the who FCTC:
- Smoking reduction: In 2005, 49 percent of men and 14 percent of women smoked. In 10 years, that rate decreased to 18.2 percent of the total population. The decline in the Japanese smoking rate has accelerated in recent years, as heated tobacco products enter the market.
- Bans: Since the passage of a bill discouraging passive smoke, employers, restaurant owners, and public facilities throughout the country have increasingly banned cigarettes. Smoking is also banned in many outdoor locations in Japan.
- Health warnings: In 2003, the Japanese government required cigarette packaging to display warnings that use 30 percent or more space of their main surface.
- Tobacco tax rates: The tax rate on conventional cigarettes is more than three times higher than the tax rate for smokeless tobacco. However, heat-not-burn products are currently taxed less than cigarettes.
Under Japan’s Tobacco Business Act (TBA), restrictions on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship are largely left to “industry self-regulation.” Smoking is banned in many public places, including streets and parks in many parts of Tokyo. Smoking is allowed indoors and many restaurants have smoking rooms or smoking sections, but there is a push to ban indoor smoking in Tokyo ahead of the 2020 Olympics. E-cigarettes and e-liquids are not currently regulated under the TBA as a tobacco product; however, heat-not-burn products that vaporize tobacco leaves are regulated as tobacco. An e-cigarette containing nicotine is regarded as a “pharmaceutical product,” thus nicotine-containing e-cigarettes cannot be marketed in Japan without a pharmaceutical license.
The potential indoor smoking ban in Tokyo ahead of the 2020 Olympics is generating robust dialogue about smoking. The rise of reduced-risk products, including heated tobacco, and the declining smoking rate are also receiving media coverage.
Views of Alternatives to Smoking:
Japan has seen a rise in popularity of heated tobacco products, partially due to growing awareness about the health risks associated with smoking, but also due to the high cost of traditional tobacco products, a desire for cleanliness and to avoid smelling like smoke.
By the Numbers:
- Approximately 19 million people ages 20 and older currently smoke.
- Japanese men have historically had high smoking rates. In 1965, the smoking rate for men in Japan was more than 80 percent. In 2000, the male smoking rate was around 50 percent. It is currently 30.1 percent.
- The female smoking rate in Japan has decreased from 15 percent in 1965 to 7.9 percent today.
- 42 percent of Japan’s smoking population is 60 and older.
“If it is going to be illegal, people think you could just quit. But if we could have quit, we would have done so already.”
– Yuki Okuda, cigarette smoker