Every year, May 31 is designated as “World No Tobacco Day” by the World Health Organization (WHO). Japan, as a country, is trying to take this battle against tobacco a few steps further than the WHO by instituting a “No Smoking Day” and even a “No Smoking Week”. This is to discourage its citizens from smoking and raising awareness all over the country.
“We have freshly launched this fiscal year the second Health Japan 21 project. It’s to stop those underage from smoking and to host the committee of experts on tobacco and health upgrading to undertake various measures to deal with cigarette smoking,” said Kenya Akiba, vice minister of Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. The government even found a popular face to front its battle against smoking in the person of professional golfer Riko Higashio, who has been named “No Tobacco Ambassador”. The amiable golfer’s first mission is incidentally to immediately show this position in her family, and maybe even convince her famous father – former Japanese baseball star Osamu Higashio, an admitted heavy smoker – to quit the vice. Riko has had a positive start, as her father said that he would indeed try to quit.
According to data from Japan’s Ministry of Health, around 40 percent of Japanese men aged 30 to 40 are reported to be smokers. This statistic is considerably higher than the numbers in most industrialized nations. It is a small consolation that this percentage lowers drastically in Japan’s total population where the percentage of smokers is at 19.5 percent. There has been a marked improvement from year 2000, when 27.7 percent of Japan’s citizens smoked. Still, the government would like to see lower numbers than these. Kyoichi Miyazaki, Secretary General of Japan Society for Tobacco Control, has for 30 years been trying to persuade Japanese smokers to kick the habit. He talked about two huge milestones in his fight. “Chiyoda Ward prohibited smoking in 2002. That’s a very strong impact to them. Secondly, cigarette price was raised by 100 yen in 2010. So that had a big impact on smokers,” he said.
“We’re trying to lower the percentage of smokers to 12 percent by 2022. And for that we have begun a scheme to try to support those who wish to quit smoking,” said Hiroyuki Noda, the Tobacco Free Initiative Officer of Japan’s Ministry of Health. The ministry has started initiatives like offering free counseling via telephone and treating nicotine addiction under the government’s health insurance.
[via Channel News Asia]
Comments Off on JDP Startup Corner: Pros & Cons of Working with a Partner in Japan