Last updated: June 1, 2020
Japan became a Party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on February 27, 2005.
Smoke Free Places
At the national level, smoking is not restricted or prohibited by law in indoor public places, workplaces, or on public transport, although in practice many such places restrict or ban smoking. The only national law that addresses smoke free places requires that property owners, managers, or employers "endeavor” or “try” to take measures “as necessary” to protect against exposure to tobacco smoke without any penalty provisions. Non-binding guidelines serve as the foundation for further national government directions in this area. At the sub-national level, two large prefectures have enacted smoke free ordinances for indoor public places with associated penalties for non-compliance. In addition, smoke free ordinances for crowded outdoor urban streets and walkways are common nationwide.
Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship
While some restrictions on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship exist in practice, no forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship are prohibited by law. Restrictions on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship operate as a form of “industry self-regulation” pursuant to the Tobacco Business Act, which calls on advertisers to “be mindful so as not to widely and actively encourage smoking.”
Tobacco Packaging and Labeling
One or more text-only statements must be displayed on 30 percent of the main area of the tobacco package. Misleading descriptors are not prohibited. However, where misleading terms such as “low tar”, “light”, “ultra light”, or “mild” are used, language must also be used that states that the health impacts are not less than other products.
Cigarette Contents and Disclosures
The law does not grant the authority to regulate the contents of cigarettes. The law does not require that manufacturers and importers disclose to government authorities information on the contents and emissions of their products.
The law does not restrict the sale of tobacco products via vending machines or the internet. There are no restrictions on the sale of single cigarettes or small packets of cigarettes. The sale of tobacco products is prohibited to persons under the age of 20.
Roadmap to Tobacco Control Legislation
Smoke free guidance is provided by the Industrial Safety and Health Act and the Health Promotion Act. Article 71 of the Industrial Safety and Health Act requires employers to “endeavor to create a comfortable working environment." Two notifications were issued pursuant to this article: 1) Policies Concerning Measures to be Taken by Employers to Create a Comfortable Work Environment (July 1, 1992) (Ministry of Labour, Health, and Welfare Notification No. 59), which asks employers, among other things, to designate smoking areas within the workplace; and 2) Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare Directive to Prefectural Undersecretaries No. 0509001, Guidelines on Passive Smoking Prevention Measures in the Workplace (2003), which encourages smoke free environments and provides standards for designated smoking areas. Article 25 of the Health Promotion Act asks managers of certain enumerated public places and “other facilities used by numerous people” to “try to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent passive smoking exposure.” Health Service Bureau (HSB) Notification 0225 Number 2 implements Article 25 and notifies prefectural governors that “other facilities” includes public transport, hotels, and additional public places not included in Article 25. The provisions in the law and notification are non-binding.
Tobacco Business Act No. 68 of 1984 (TBA) addresses, among other things, health warnings and tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. Article 39 of the TBA requires health warnings on tobacco product packaging. Article 36 of the Regulations for Tobacco Business Act Implementation (as amended by 2003 Ministry of Finance Ordinance No. 103) implements Article 39 of the TBA and provides health warnings and packing and labeling requirements for tobacco product packaging.
Article 40 of the TBA addresses tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship and calls on advertisers to make "efforts that their advertising not be excessive." Ministry of Finance Notification No. 109, Guidelines on Advertisements Concerning Tobacco, are non-binding guidelines issued pursuant to Article 40 of the TBA and provide guidance on restrictions on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
This country’s legal measures were reviewed by our legal staff in consultation with in-country lawyers or tobacco control experts.