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Trends A First For Japan Male Smoking Rate Drops Below 30%

Good news from Japan: according to data compiled by a health ministry survey, the local male smoking rate fell below 30% (at 28.8%) for the first time, in 2019.

Amongst the findings from the health ministry survey, was the fact that men and women in their 40s were found to smoke the most, at 37.6% and 13.4% respectively. Thankfully, the total 28.8% rate for males is down 2.3 points from the previous survey, which was carried out in 2016.

Conducted every three years by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, the national livelihood survey, also found that the female smoking rate decreased by 0.7 points to 8.8 percent.

When grouped by age groups, the biggest drops were observed amongst smokers in their 20s, with the ratio for men falling by 4.1 points, to 27%, and the ratio for women by 1.9 points, to 8.3%.

Smoking (finally) banned in restaurants and bars

The relatively high smoking rates in Japan, have been partly attributed to the country’s non-comprehensive smoke-free laws, that were in place until earlier this year. Since then more standardized rules have gone into effect, with smoking being finally banned inside restaurants and bars, as of April 1st.

The ban included combustible tobacco products such as cigarettes and cigars, but not e-cigarettes. The aim was to protect those “who want to avoid getting exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke,” said a health ministry document on announcing the ban.

As part of an amended Health Promotion Law passed in 2018, the initiative applied to all restaurants and bars across Japan but exempts establishments that sell tobacco, such as cigar bars, and some small bars and restaurants. Such establishments have put signs at the entrance to indicate that smoking is allowed.

Japan’s HTPs success

Meanwhile, another recent study has indicated that since the entry of heated tobacco products (HTPs) in Japan, cigarette sales have taken a serious hit across the country.

“The decline in smoking rates among adults in Japan is astoundingly impressive when you realize that this has only come about rapidly with the introduction of HTPs,” said Nancy Loucas, Executive Director of the Coalition of Asia-Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA).

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Countries that support vape have far lower smoking rates than other countries, such as Japan and the United Kingdom. It also proves that with correct policy guidance, vape can really help smokers quit smoking.


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