Outdoor smokers on the rise as April law set to take effect
Kyodo -- Mar 22
A law, set to take full effect in April that will ban people from smoking indoors in government buildings and other places in Japan, appears to be backfiring as outdoor smoking is making a brash comeback in all the wrong places.

As smokers find it increasingly difficult to find designated indoor smoking areas, they are turning to neighborhood parks to light up and drawing the ire of nearby residents for the unwanted smoking and cigarette butts left scattered about.

Government agencies find themselves between a rock and a hard place as they try to appease the general public from a smoking nuisance while using a loophole to bring back outdoor smoking areas at their own facilities to satisfy the country's smoking culture.

At the end of February, on the ninth-floor roof of the Okayama city hall in Okayama Prefecture, western Japan, more than ten employees gathered around ashtrays for a smoke break in an open space demarcated from nonsmokers only by white lines.

"It really helps out for people like me who can hardly find any places to smoke any more. I appreciate that at least some consideration is given to smokers," said one male government employee who was on the roof having a smoke.

Under the revised Health Promotion Law, which partially took effect last July, government agencies, schools and hospitals started banning people from smoking indoors, and more establishments such as bars and restaurants are to face similar rule changes from April.

Fines of up to 300,000 yen ($2,700) could be imposed on smokers and up to 500,000 yen on facility managers for breaking the law.

News source: Kyodo
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