Non-Smokers Rejoice: Ban Implemented in Japan
Ask anyone who has visited in recent years about their trip to Japan, and you're sure to be regaled with stories of gorgeous landscapes, incredible food, sacred shrines and neon nights in cities. You might also be surprised to hear about how smokey the restaurants and bars serving said incredible food were; but no longer!
Smoking in public, especially in restaurants and bars, has been a pain point for visitors from countries where smoking bans are already implemented.
The plan to ban indoor smoking was originally announced in July, 2018, to help reduce pollution from second-hand smoke ahead of the Olympics. Although the Olympics have now been postponed until the summer of 2021, the ban has been implemented on schedule.
So what does it mean? In principle, smoking is now prohibited indoors at places you'd expect, like government buildings, hospitals and schools, as well as restaurants, hotels, and offices. Customers who violate the ban are subject to a fine of up to ¥300,000 (about US$2,800), while establishments can face up to ¥500,000 (about US$4,660) if they fail to comply.
All that said, it's still OK to smoke in designated areas. Restaurants and venues, for example, will have designated, ventilated rooms where smoking is allowed, and hotels will still offer rooms where smoking is permitted to customers. Additionally, small restaurants under a certain size can still allow smoking (although they must have signage that indicates such).
All in all, the ban should be a big relief for non-smoking travelers and residents alike.