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Cost fears as Tokyo toughens tobacco laws

Tuesday, May 02, 2017 - 01:21

A battle over an anti-smoking law in Tokyo is becoming increasingly intense as the city prepares to host the Olympics. As Laura Frykberg reports, bars and restaurants are worried about their businesses and a ban could cut into government tax revenues, at a time when Japan's tax-paying population is shrinking

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Some habits are hard to quit.. And Japan is more addicted than most. With some of the most liberal smoking laws in the world. But Tokyo is trying to clean up its image - at least in public. Banning it in restaurants, bars and cafes - ahead of the 2020 Olympics. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) 52-YEAR-OLD CUSTOMER, MEGUMI ONODERA, SAYING: "I doubt the law can fix this - I think the main problem is the behaviour of some smokers, so I don't agree with any legal restrictions." Stubbing out has faced stiff opposition though. Businesses say it will scare off customers. The new law can fine those who break it up to $4,400. A cost many who struggle can't afford. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) HEAD OF NATIONAL FOOD AND DRINK ASSOCIATION, TETSURO KOJO, SAYING: "In the worst case, restaurants would be forced to close down. There are lots of small family-run eateries surviving on daily earnings, which we're concerned about the most." Opponents also say the ban will hit the government. Which partly owns Japan Tobacco - and relies on cigarette taxes to offset the fall in revenue from an ageing population. But there is another cost they may not be considering. About 15,000 tax payers die each year from diseases caused by secondhand smoke.

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Cost fears as Tokyo toughens tobacco laws

Tuesday, May 02, 2017 - 01:21