Researchers at the University of Waterloo have found that Japan’s tobacco control policies are not working. Two studies were conducted as part of the Waterloo-based International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project (ITC) and involved a survey of 3,800 smokers in Japan.
Only 30% of Japanese smokers noticed text-only health warnings on cigarette packs.
The UK researchers worked in collaboration with researchers in Japan on both reports, and these were the first national-level studies looking into Japan’s stop-smoking efforts.
Led by Janet Chung-Hall of the ITC project, the first study looked into cigarette warnings and found that only 30% of Japanese smokers noticed text-only health warnings on cigarette packaging, while only 14% reported actually reading them. More than half of the participants agreed that picture warnings would be more effective than the existing text-only.
Smoking restrictions need to be clearer
The second study, led by Genevieve Sansone of ITC, looked into local smoking restrictions. This research found that the partial smoke-free laws in the country, are leading to higher exposure rates to second-hand smoke in workplaces, restaurants, and bars when compared to countries where clearer no smoking policies have been set in place.
“The Japanese government has been very slow to develop and implement proven FCTC policies,” said Yumiko Mochizuki, a researcher at the Japan Cancer Society and ITC member. “These two studies show that Japan must do much more to combat smoking, the number one preventable cause of death in our country, which kills 160,000 smokers a year and over 15,000 non-smokers from second-hand smoke.”
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