No smoking law; public says not just for Olympics, not just for Tokyo


With Tokyo Olympics coming up, one of the hot topics is that the International Olympic Committee and the WHO have agreed that they should promote a smoke-free Olympics, in order to protect against second-hand smoke, but with Japan being a bit of a smokers’ paradise and with the government owning a third of Japan Tobacco, they are a bit lagging on things. However, recently a bill has been introduced that would require all restuarants over 30 square metres to go non-smoking. To see what the public thought of this, Intage Research conducted a survey into going non-smoking.

Despite extensive advert campaigns like the one pictured below, Japan Tobacco seems to have failed to convince the general public that the problem of smoking is not disease but manner issues like litter. Furthermore, Japan must be about the only country with more restrictions on outdoor smoking – for instance many major train stations ban smoking within a radius of a kilometre or so – versus indoor – basically no restrictions in restaurants. I remember my first experience in Japan many years ago; they asked “Smoking or Non-Smoking?”, we said “Non”, so they lifted the ashtray off the table. Things have got better now, but not much…

Anti-smoking ads

Research results

Q1: Do you support or oppose restaurants, etc, becoming all non-smoking? (Sample size=10,000)

Conditionally support24.7%
Other, don’t know14.9%

A minority of men under sixty gave unconditional support, but a majority of every age group of women did, with over two-thirds of the over-sixties in favour.

Note for the smoker/non-smoker information below, apparently some data got lost, so a sample of only 5,833 smokers and non-smokers is given even though the All column has all 10,000 respondents.

Q2: Why do you support or oppose restaurants, etc, becoming all non-smoking? (Sample size=10,000)

It’s a great measure for preventing second-hand smoke51.4%16.7%62.5%
It would be difficult for small restaurants to have separate smoking area, so completely non-smoking is better3.0%1.7%3.6%
I understand the reasons, but thinking about smokers’ convenience too, there should be smoking areas18.3%32.6%12.8%
Thinking about small restaurants and the effect on their business, there should be looser restrictions6.4%10.3%4.6%
I just oppose going non-smoking6.1%22.3%1.3%
Don’t know14.2%17.3%12.8%

For reference, here are smoking rates, taken from the 2015 government Cabinet Office annual survey into citizens’ health and nutrition. The smokers are the sum of daily smokers plus occasional smokers:


Q3: Should restaurants, etc, becoming all non-smoking spread to the whole country? (Sample size=10,000)

Should be limited to Tokyo and other cities directly involved in the Olympics15.1%
Should spread to the whole country54.2%
I oppose going non-smoking11.6%
Don’t know19.1%

Looking at figures for various areas of the country, there was barely one or two percentage points variation from the total figures.


Over the 30th and 31st of March 2017, 10,000 members of Intage’s Cue Monitor panel aged between twenty and sixty-nine completed a private internet-based questionnaire. The ratios of male and female, each age group, and place of residence was based on the 2015 census figures.

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