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Lawmakers from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party voiced forceful opposition Thursday to the health ministry’s attempt to ban smoking in public facilities, throwing a wrench into Japan’s battle against second-hand smoke.
“More than 90 percent” of the LDP lawmakers who attended a meeting of its health and welfare panel slammed the draft proposal unveiled by the ministry last October, with some calling it “too radical,” panel director Naomi Tokashiki said.
The draft called for banning smoking in schools, hospitals, municipal offices, restaurants and other public areas.
Some lawmakers have interpreted the proposal as an attempt to “eradicate” smokers and called tobacco a “legitimate luxury.”
Cracking down on smokers would risk infringing on rights guaranteed by the Constitution, they said, suggesting that Japan should instead focus on bolstering its efforts at “segregation” so nonsmokers can avoid the health-damaging smoke generated by smokers. The policy is known as bunen in Japanese.