Head of the Convention Secretariat strongly supports 100% smoke-free Tokyo

A delegation from Japan, led by Mr Shigefumi Matsuzawa, member of the House of Councillors, as well as members of his staff, Professor Sakuta and Mr Miyazaki of the Japan Society for Tobacco Control, and representatives of the Permanent Mission of Japan to the International Organizations in Geneva, met Dr Vera da Costa e Silva, Head of the Convention Secretariat, on 16 September 2014.

The discussions concerned implementation of the WHO FCTC by Japan. Particular attention was given to implementation of measures protecting citizens from second-hand tobacco smoke and creating smoke-free environments, an obligation under Article 8 of the Convention, which Japan ratified in June 2004. The meeting was very timely as the Governor of Tokyo, Yoichi Masuzoe, announced in August 2014 that a smoke-free ordinance will be implemented in Tokyo before the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.

Based on 2007 estimates, 129 000 Japanese die each year of tobacco-related diseases. Further, according to estimates of the National Cancer Centre, 6800 Japanese die each year from the effects of passive smoking.

Dr da Costa e Silva noted that addressing tobacco use in a comprehensive manner, as required by the Convention, is one of the most effective way of improving the health of populations, and recommended strengthened action in the areas of smoke-free environments and health warnings on tobacco product packaging, and a comprehensive ban on all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. The measures should be complemented by strengthened coordination and collaboration between all relevant departments of the Government as well as policies to prevent interference by the tobacco industry in the development of public health policies.

Mr Matsuzawa stated that a comprehensive tobacco-control act is under preparation, for which he expressed his full support. If passed, it will ensure that all Japanese citizens will have the opportunity to enjoy smoke-free environments at the workplace and elsewhere. Dr Da Costa e Silva, on behalf of the Convention Secretariat, promised to assist Japan in its endeavours to scale up its tobacco-control policies.