Smokers of Japan, beware! With the health-themed 2025 Osaka-Kansai EXPO on the horizon, Japan is preparing for the event by enhancing new measures to reduce the smoking habits of its citizens. In particular, the Osaka city government is set to expand the no-smoking zones (smoking prohibited in the streets) from the current six locations to the whole city by 2025.  

Japan’s government is also trying to reduce the number of bars and restaurants that permit smoking. On 1st April 2020, a revision on the Health Promotion Law banned smoking on the grounds of hospitals, schools, city halls, and also in restaurants, but still permitted it in small establishments (up to 100 square meters), thus allowing smoking to remain very common in small bars and similar businesses. The revised law also does not restrict smoking in living spaces. However, it is becoming more and more common to ban smoking in condominiums, with the creation of no-smoking condominiums.

A strong desire for a healthier Japan is also recently coming from major drugstore chains in Japan. Japan’s largest drugstore chain, Welcia Holdings Co., announced their plan to help people quit smoking from February 2024 by ending cigarette sales at all of its stores by the end of February 2026, as selling cigarettes is contrary to its corporate philosophy of “promoting healthy lifestyles.” The same decision was also taken by other drugstores like Sugi Yakkyoku and Tomod’s.

Despite the cheap price of cigarettes (around 3 USD) and the lack of visually striking images on the packs, as seen in many other countries, smoking rates in Japan continue to fall. A health ministry survey showed that in comparison to the 2019 survey, in 2022, the rate of male smokers decreased by 3.4 percentage points to 25.4 percent, whereas the rate of female smokers reduced by 1.1 points to 7.7 percent. The health-themed EXPO has nothing to worry about—Japan is well on its way to becoming a smoke-free nation!