State of Smoking in Japan | Foundation for a Smoke-Free World

state of smoking in japan

This page was last edited on: July 26, 2022 at 9:39am 

smoking rate

16.7% (2019)

Tobacco smoking rate

17.8% (2018)


  • In 2019, 16.7% or 17.8 million Japanese adults aged 20 and above smoked combustible cigarettes (CCs) and heated tobacco products (HTP) products. Among those who smoked, 12% were cigarette and 4.5% were HTP users (see Figure 2).
  • Smoking rates among men (27.1% or 13.7 million) are higher versus women (7.6% or 4.1 million).
  • 26.1% of Japanese smokers aged 20 and above reported a desire to quit smoking, while 60% expressed a desire to reduce the number of cigarettes smoked or did not want to quit at all (Figure 3).
  • More than half were of those who smoke (51.2%) were not aware of a cessation facility nearby (Figure 4).

(figure 1) Prevalence (%) of Smoking Tobacco products (cigs &HTP) by japanese adults (20 + age)

Adult smoking prevalence of cigarettes and HTPs. 2002-2020

Source: Japan NHNS. 2002-2019

(FIgure 2) shifting prevalence rate from cigarettes to htps in japan 2018 & 2019

Source: Japan NHNS, 2018-2019

(Figure 3) quitting intentions by adult japanese smokers (2019)

Source: Japan NHNS 2019 (Table 86) 

(Figure 4) Aware of existing medical institutions that smokers can receive smoking cessation treatment in the immediate vicinity (2019)

Source: Japan NHNS, 2019 (Table 88)


  • In 2019, tobacco was responsible for an estimated 211,756 deaths (one out of three deaths in Japan).
  • Tobacco-attributable deaths and disease have fallen since 2011, owing to reduced smoking and cigarette sales (a 69% reduction from 322 billion in 1990 to 98.8 billion in 2020).

regulatory environment:

  • Japan ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in 2004.
  • WHO’s demand reduction measures embodied in the MPOWER framework were evaluated as ‘complete’ for monitoring and mass media in 2021.  Other measures such as cessation programs and health warnings were evaluated to be ‘moderate’ while advertising was found to be either ‘weak or no policy’ in this area. Measures for smoke-free environments were ‘minimal’.
  • HTPs are regulated similar to cigarettes in Japan — flavored products are not restricted and there is no plain packaging. Although there are no pictorial health warnings on tobacco and HRP products, textual health warnings must cover at least 30% of the front and 30% of the back of package as of 2003.
  • Tobacco products are prohibited for those younger than 20 years of age.
  • It is worth noting that changes are taking place on excise tax policies. There are four types of taxes levied on cigarettes and HTPs in Japan: national tobacco taxes, local (prefectural and municipal) tobacco taxes, a national special tobacco surtax and a sales (consumption) tax. In 2019, cigarettes had the highest excise tax rate (52.6%) among other excisable goods in Japan.
  • E-cigarettes containing nicotine are allowed in Japan by prescription only.


In 2020, Japan produced 13,748 tons of tobacco crop, an 82.9% reduction since 1990.

*As research findings become available that are inclusive of additional gender identities, the Foundation will update the information presented. 

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