How Japan Is Solving Their Tobacco Problem Without Killing Vaping


The island nation is finally beginning to ban tobacco in public places, but unlike most, they’re leaving vaping and HnB devices alone

As the world has grown aware of just how deadly traditional cigarettes are, most of the developed world swiftly moved to ban smoking in public spaces. Unfortunately, as vaping became more visible in the public eye, lawmakers decided, without adequate research, that e-cigarettes must be prohibited and regulated by the same laws as tobacco products. This has become so common, that anytime legislators decide to regulate vaping and tobacco separately is a cause for celebration.

One of the longest holdouts of public tobacco bans was Japan, but they finally just decided to implement their first nationwide tobacco ban. More importantly for vapers in Japan, as well as abroad, their new tobacco regulations will not affect either Heat not Burn devices or traditional vaporizers. This could ultimately prove to be a catalyst for other countries to begin treating vaping and smoking as the remarkably different processes that they are.

Japan’s Nationwide Ban

Japan has a long and intriguing history with tobacco. In fact, the third largest tobacco company in the world, Japan Tobacco, originated as an entirely state-run business. While the days of total federal ownership is over, to this day the Japanese government retains 30% of the tobacco conglomerate. As such, it’s no wonder why Japan resisted the anti-tobacco movement for as long as they have. But with the internet age in full force, it was increasingly hard for the government to deny or hide the conclusive evidence proving tobacco’s harm. As a result, the national smoking rate has been on a steady decline since even before these tobacco bans were seriously discussed.

Most experts agree that the most significant reason for the timing of this new ban is the upcoming 2020 Olympics set to take place in Tokyo. The ban will be unveiled in stages, with the full ban coming into effect in April of 2020, slightly before the games are set to begin. At that point, smokers or business owners who do not abide by the law face fines of ¥300,000 and ¥500,000 respectively. Luckily, this ban does not cover HnB devices or even traditional vaping devices, which are considered medical devices in Japan. But it’s important to note, that as a medicinal product, it’s a lot harder to obtain e-liquids or new parts in Japan, so you’ll likely want to bring whatever you need when planning a trip.

Stricter Version In Tokyo

In preparation for the Summer Games, the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly passed a new city ordinance which takes the new nationwide ban and makes it more robust. The nationwide version of the ban is said to cover around 45% of the countries restaurants and bars, while in Tokyo that number is going to be as high as 84%. The lawmakers hope that this will foster a smoke-free environment for the 2020 games.

But even the stricter version of this ban doesn’t prohibit smoking everywhere. While certain places, such as schools, will ban the use of cigarettes everywhere, both inside and outside, other places such as universities and government buildings will be allowed to offer small designated smoking areas. Other businesses that are exempt from these regulations are restaurants with all automated employees or those that only employ family members. In these cases, it’ll be up to the owner whether or not they want to allow smoking.


The fight for acceptance of vaping has been a long and difficult one, especially as so many public officials are willing to merely equate vaping with smoking. Not only is this wrong because vaping and smoking are empirically not the same process, but it’s also lazy as legislators are shirking their responsibility to adequately regulate vaping by simply applying tobacco regulations to the harm reduction tools.

That’s why it’s so great to see an influential country like Japan taking the lead and treating vaping and smoking as two entirely different things. According to polls conducted by Action on Smoking and Health, only around 13% of adults understand that vaping is about 95% safer than smoking. At the same time, over 25% of respondents said that they believed vaping was just as, if not more, dangerous than tobacco. These statistics should make it clear just how important this fight is, and just how huge it is for a significant player like Japan to firmly draw a line in the sand between vaping and smoking. That’s the best chance we have to rid the world of smoking once and for all.

Do you think Japan is implementing this ban for the right reasons? If not, do you believe that this ban will ultimately help vaping rights in other countries? How can we further support the idea that vaping and smoking are different and should be treated as such? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.

Jimmy, lover, blogger, vaper and ex-smoker. I’ve been blogging about and supporting Vaping since 2009. They changed my life and I think history will show them as one of the most significant public health invention of the 21st century.

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