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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Ban On Restaurant Smoking — But Not If The Place Is Small Enough

Despite being a smoker, I have to admit that Japan’s decision to okay small restaurants to allow smoking is stupid.

Yeah, yeah… I do. I sure as hell never did when I was in Japan, but now I use it as a crutch to help with stress. That and food. On the plus side, I no longer drink like a fish as when I was in Japan. Vices.

I knew a woman who said she ate when she was happy - ergo she was pleasingly plump. As for myself, I eat when I’m stressed, and I’m sure others eat when they are unhappy. By eat, I of course mean “over-eat”. I must be really stressed.

But back to the issue at hand - smoking in a small restaurant.

Even when I it was allowed in Toronto, I never smoked in a restaurant - ever. Dance club. Sure. Strip club. Sure. Pick-up club. Sure.

Strangely, in Canada, the only place I ever picked up women was at a strip club. Want difficult, try picking up a waitress at a strip club. Twice.

Anyhow… because I am the master of being unable to stay on focus, Japan’s health ministry has proposed to exclude existing restaurants and bars run as small businesses from the country-wide smoking ban within public spaces.

Currently, the bill now calls for obliging small outlets wanting to permit smoking to put up signs saying that smoking is allowed or separated smoking areas are available. It also seeks to ban the entry of people aged under 20, including customers, to such restaurants and smoking areas.

It’s cute.

Toronto kindda did the same thing… then the next thing you knew, the smoking section was outside, and then nine meters away from a doorway.

That doesn’t bother me. People who don’t want to smoke or be bothered with having their clothes or hair smell like smoke shouldn’t have to be exposed to just because others want to exercise their right to smoke.

Smokers for the most part no longer put up a fight about such things here in Toronto. Either they don’t have the breath to yell, or they figure the government’s going to do what it wants to do anyway.

Which is why I find Japan’s decision to cow-tow and allow small restaurants and bars to allow smoking is just plain shameful.

Have the balls to ban it from public spaces.

Unless someone is getting kickbacks from the Japanese tobacco industry… just talking out loud here.

The Ministry of Health says it is looking to formalize the nitty-gritty of what constitutes a “small restaurant or bar”, but it may depend on floor space as a primary criteria.

During a previous draft of the bill back in March of 2017 (yes, it’s been kicking around for a while), the Health Ministry wanted a smoking ban exemption only for bars with a floor space of up to 30 square meters.

But, the LDP (Liberal Democratic Party) said the exemption should be expanded to all eating and drinking establishments with a floorspace up to 150 square meters. According to the LDP, their reason for wanting the change to the bill was spurred on my request for such from the restaurant industry.

The newly revised bill is interesting, as it seeks:

- to allow existing restaurants and bars with floor spaces of up to a certain standard to permit smoking by their customers in all seats or in separated areas until rules to be applied to them are set under law;

- treat heat-not-burn cigarettes differently from paper-wrapped cigarettes;

- to not allow customers smoking ordinary cigarettes in dedicated areas to not be allowed to have meals or drinks there;

- but customers using heat-not-burn cigarettes will be allowed to have food and drinks in that same area;

- a complete ban within public facilities: hospitals, schools and public office buildings—but each of these places are allowed to establish a smoking area—but only if there’s an open-air area on premises.

- a complete ban at business offices, athletic facilities and hotels except for guest rooms, but again each can establish dedicated smoking spaces, not necessarily in an open-air area.

- to establish that operators of all of these public establishment place appropriate signage at all smoking spots;

- to prohibit entry to any to any bar or restaurant where smoking is permitted to anyone under the age of 20.

The World Health Organization has rated Japan’s measures against passive smoking in public places at the fourth level, which is the lowest. The new rules are expected to lift the rating by one ranking.

Andrew Joseph

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