WHO FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON TOBACCO CONTROL HEARINGS
August 29, 2000
We hope heartily for the conclusion of an international treaty to protect children's health from cigarette smoking.
Hiroshi Nogami, Executive Director
Coalition on a Smoke-Free Environment for Kids in Japan
& Tobaccoless Japan
1 chome-21-1-702, Tamatsukuri, Chuou-ku, Osaka, JAPAN 540-0004
URL: URL: http://www3.ocn.ne.jp/~muen/
Our council was founded in 1988, and we have been acting to advance a smoke-free environment for children in Japan, so that children shall not breathe cigarette smokes, and they will not smoke cigarettes. Every year, we have printed 200,000 copies of the smoke-free enlightenment posters utilizing the winning pictures in our contest, and have sent them to various places all over the country. These posters have been put up in many places such as schools, hospitals, public places, and railway stations. Further, contests for the pictures and the motto were also held, and many children have participated in these contests.
We support an international treaty, and submit our opinions and proposals based on the above experiences.
1. We call for the enactment of an international law prohibiting minors (under 20 years old) from smoking.
A law prohibiting minors’ smoking was enacted in Japan in the year 1900 (exactly, 100 years ago) to keep the health of minors.
This law was proposed in 1899, for the following reason.
“Recently, children who smoke cigarettes are increasing. Cigarettes paralyze the children's nerves, and it is not good that school children suck something that will make their sense perception dull. The physique of smokers is inferior, and they cannot become respectable soldiers due to the habit of smoking.”
After enactment of the law, minors’ health has been protected from cigarettes, and this law has been significant in keeping the health of Japanese people. As it is one of the reasons for longevity of the Japanese, it is pointed out that this law of prohibiting minors’ smoking contributes greatly, and this is the reason we can be proud of this law.
Cigarette smoking is especially bad for the bodies and mind development of children who are still growing, as they tend to become dependent on the nicotine of cigarettes more easily the younger they start to smoke, and the understanding of this fact is still missing among children.
We hope prohibiting minors from smoking will be included in the international treaty for this reason. Especially, we absolutely oppose lowering the age at which smoking is allowed to 18. Smoking should be prohibited up to 20 years old to protect the health of juveniles’ body and mind in the 21st century.
2. We call for a society in which children and minors cannot buy cigarettes (prohibition of vending machines, an age proof presentation requirement, and severe punishment of illegal sellers).
Notwithstanding of the presence of the law, in Japan, there are still 30% of boys and 17% of girls in the 1st grade of junior high school that have tried smoking, and it is reported that 25% of boys and 7% of girls in the 3rd grade of high school smoke every day.
The reason children are not protected from becoming addicted to the habit of smoking is the social environment where minors can obtain cigarettes easily through vending machines, convenience stores, and cigarette shops. It is reported that high school students (3rd grade boys) obtain cigarettes through vending machines(74%), convenience stores(40%), and cigarette shops(26%) according to an investigation, indicating that largest number of children purchase cigarettes through the vending machines. There are more than 500,000 cigarette vending machines now in Japan.
Vending machines through which minors can buy cigarettes very easily should be prohibited by the international treaty. Moreover, shop-front sales of cigarettes such as at convenience stores and cigarette shops should only be allowed after demanding and confirming proofs of age. (In Japan, alcohol vending machines have been abolished autonomously by the industry since this June.)
We require that the international treaty should be ratified to include a clause specifying that sellers who have sold cigarettes to juveniles should be severely punished by being deprived of their license and fined, as a crime that the development of the minor's body and mind was obstructed.
3. We call for raising the cigarette tax.
It is also very important to raise the tax on cigarettes, and consequently to increase the price for the sake of prevention of smoking by juveniles. It is important that a minor can hardly buy a cigarette, and if the tax is raised, the smoking population will decrease. Raise the cigarette tax, and appropriate the increased levies to the costs of the countermeasures against cigarettes. Please decide on these cigarette countermeasures with the international treaty.
4. We call for prohibition of advertisements targeting minors.
Cigarette advertisements in magazines and events targeting minors (and young women) should be prohibited.
It should also be prohibited that tobacco companies hold or sponsor events targeting minors. Please decide on this countermeasure with the international treaty.
5. We call for severe limitation on the brand names of cigarettes.
It deceives minors to use "light," "mild," "lucky," "star," and so on as the brand names of cigarettes. Because cigarettes are harmful and bring dependence, use of such deceptive brand names on cigarettes should be prohibited.
Instead, subject tobacco companies to such a severe limitation that all cigarettes should bear only the manufacturer name and the item number, such as JT cigarette 1, JT cigarette 2, and so on. Please decide on this countermeasure with the international treaty.
6. We call for an internationally common indication concerning the health warnings of cigarettes.
We hope that the international treaty should be agreed upon so that the health warning indication of cigarettes should apply internationally common expressions including the harm of cigarettes to minors, children, pregnant women and babies. This common warning indication is truly rational, because the harm caused by cigarettes does not vary at all according to the country and the people.
7. We call for minors’ and young women's non-smoking support clinics.
As minors can obtain cigarettes easily, a large number of minors actually smoke even if minors’ smoking is prohibited by law. Non-smoking support clinics for minors are very important because the harm is severer, and dependence occurs more easily the younger the age they start to smoke cigarettes. It is important that non-smoking support clinics can receive free of charge not only minors, but also young women from the viewpoint of the protection of motherhood. As for this cost, it is rational that the cigarette tax should be applied. We hope that this countermeasure can be specified in the agreement of the international treaty.
8. We call for enactment of a law protecting non-smokers’ and minors’ health.
There is no law that protects the health of non-smokers including children and the pregnant women from the harm of the passive smoking in Japan. No-smoking in public halls, theaters, department stores, dome-type baseball stadiums, and no-smoking seats in the Shin-kansen (bullet train) and conventional trains is specified in the regulations from the viewpoint of prevention of a fire. The health of non-smokers is protected somehow or other by this law which has originally little relation to health. A social rule, in other words, a law, is required to protect the health of non-smokers from passive smoking.
The law should be drafted, prepared, and enacted so that
non-smokers shall not breathe cigarette smokes in public buildings, public transportation, educational facilities, sports facilities, restaurants beyond a certain scale of space, business offices and work places, on the road, in other public spaces, and so on. When smoking in those places is forbidden, it will also be required to set up designated smoking places both inside and outside of the buildings. Since international travel is increasing, a treaty that requires each country to prepare such a law will be necessary.
9. We call for complete privatization of the cigarette industry.
In Japan, the Ministry of Finance still holds 2/3 of the stock of Japan Tobacco (JT). Consequently, the Ministry of Finance still supervises and protects the cigarette company, tobacco cultivation farms, and cigarette shops. The first Article of the "Cigarette Business Law" states, "the wholesome development of the cigarette industry shall be promoted, and stable financial income shall be secured."
The Ministry of Finance is quite unconcerned even if the health of people is ruined by cigarettes for the sake of increasing the income from the tax. There are countless examples of the Ministry of Finance refusing budget requests for health countermeasures against cigarettes from the Ministry of Welfare.
Please conclude the international treaty so that the cigarette industry can be privatized completely, and the country can advance the cigarette countermeasures freely.
10. Contributions from the cigarette industry to members of the Diet and to political parties should be prohibited.
In Japan, the "people’s health-promotion plan in the 21st century (Healthy Japan 21 Plan)" was prepared this March, and cigarette countermeasures were taken up as one important issue. In the original plan, the goal was reducing the smoking rate by half in 10 years, however, the cigarette industry has worked on the Diet members of the Liberal Democratic Party, and consequently the Liberal Democratic Party has applied pressure to the Ministry of Welfare disturbing the cigarette countermeasures (refer to the attached material). A citizens group has promoted a signature-collecting campaign, and has tried to stop the disturbance, but achieved an insufficient result.
It is very important to prohibit the Diet members and political parties from receiving contributions from the cigarette industry, and to prevent them from disturbing the cigarette countermeasures of the country with the international treaty.“Framework Convention on Tobacco Control" of WHO:
November 25, 1999
Dear Mr. Niwa Yuya, Welfare Minister
A resolution against the "Healthy Japan 21 Plan" of the Ministry of Welfare and the
In regard to the "Healthy Japan 21" plan of which drafting work is at present underway in the Welfare Ministry, and in regard to the plan of the“Framework Convention on Tobacco Control" of which examination is now being started at WHO, we resolve the following.
Cigarettes are a favorite item of adults who have been smoking for many years of their lives, and each person should decide whether he or she will smoke or not smoke. Further, what kind of influence cigarette smoking may bring to human health is not yet totally defined. It will be a problem for the administration to lead the people by one-sidedly setting a numerical goal, even when referring to the constitution of Japan.
Further, uniform regulations should not be forced indiscriminately, as the legislative systems, culture, history, and industrial structure vary according to each country.
This problem should be disposed of carefully along the lines of this resolution, since a very serious influence will be exerted on tobacco farmers, cigarette retail shops, and the cigarette industry of Japan.
The Liberal Democratic Party, Political Affairs Research Committee (Special Committee for the Cigarette and Salt Industries, Examination Subcommittee of the Leaf Tobacco Price, General Agricultural Administration Investigation Meeting, Agriculture and Forestry Sectional Meeting)