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Japan witnesses steep fall of smokers

The number of smokers in Japan has drastically decreased over the years, new findings have revealed.

The Far East nation, often recognized for its citizens’ health-consciousness, witnessed figures of smokers ages 20 and older decrease by half in 2018. 

Japan’s smoking rate now stands at 17.9 percent, down from 36 percent when last recorded in 1989, the Japan Times reported on Tuesday.

Local anti-smoking advocacy groups believe that the decline is a result of increasing health awareness, an aging population, tougher smoking regulations and higher cigarette prices due chiefly to tax hikes. 

Japan has seen a constant decline in its smoking rate since it peaked in 1966 -- at 49.4 percent in total.

After taking cognizance of anti-smoking movements, Japan’s railways department started banning smoking in phases in 1987, followed by airlines in 1999.

The government created a law last July prohibiting smoking inside all school buildings, hospitals and government bodies. 

As of April 1, 2020, smoking will be banned at facilities including offices, restaurants and hotel lobbies. Special rooms will be set up for smoking.

The move has been received well by citizens, though some say that a lot more needs to be done. “It was good that the law was revised and ordinances were established, although they are still weak,” Watanabe, 81, told the newspaper.

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