Japan bans smoking for 2020 Olympics, but HnB & limited vaping okay

Tokyo, Japan, will be home to the 2020 Olympics, and the federal government has recently passed new legislation prohibiting public smoking including in the Olympic stadiums.  On a positive note, IQOS or Heat-not-Burn systems will be perfectly acceptable, as well as some forms of vaping.

Is this going to fly once the Japanese nation is infiltrated by millions of global citizens from nearly 200 nations and with vastly diverse cultural associations regarding smoking?  In the eyes of a typical American smoker, Japan can be a very confusing place to visit.  But once you learn the rules, Japan becomes essentially a smoker’s paradise to some extent.

In Japan, the laws regarding public smoking are essentially reversed from those in the United States and abroad.  For example, it is illegal to smoke a cigarette while walking the sidewalks of downtown Tokyo.  However, visitors to nightclubs, bars, and restaurants can openly smoke at will – as long as the owner of the establishment has no objections. 

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In Japan, smoking is almost normalized, but don’ expect to light up during the Olympic games.  Take your HnB device instead, although “medical vaping” will also be presumably allowed.  Why medical vaping?  Because in Japan, electronic vaping devices are legally classified as medical technology.  For foreign visitors to the smoke-free Olympics in 2020, the purchasing of vaping technology, e-liquids, tanks and coils will be nearly impossible without a doctor’s prescription.  So, stock up, pack up, and plan ahead.

Japanese government’s odd relationship with Big Tobacco

Not all outdoor smoking is illegal in Japan.  The federal government allows public smoking in designated outdoor areas while child-friendly establishments like day care centers and grammar schools face far heavier restrictions both indoors and out.  And even though national smoking rates are in steady decline in recent years, the Euromonitor International in 2016 reports that purchases of IQOS systems are soaring by as much as 500 percent.

The reason for these odd smoking laws may partially lie in the fact that the government of Japan owns about 30 percent of Japan Tobacco – the world’s third largest Big Tobacco company.  While vaping is 100 percent tobacco-free, HnB and IQOS systems rely on the “heating” rather than “burning” of real tobacco leaves.  So, it makes sense that the Japanese government would prefer that its citizens not vape.    In Japan, sales of the Ploom TECH Heat-not-Burn device by Japan Tobacco holds the largest percentage of the overall consumer market.   

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(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

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