Gen KanaiUpdate on Japan smoking
LA Times - The Land Cigarettes Call Home
In Japan, half of all men smoke, and lung cancer is a leading killer. But then, the government owns 67% of the big tobacco seller.
The Finance Ministry owns 67% of Japan Tobacco, or JT, which until 1985 was a government monopoly. In an era of tight budgets, tobacco contributes $19 billion a year to government coffers in taxes and dividends, making it among the largest revenue sources. The ministry, not health authorities, controls tobacco policy, and promotion of the industry is an explicit national goal.
Japan's warning label is among the world's weakest: "Please remember to follow good smoking manners. As smoking might injure your health, please be careful not to overdo it."
The greatest source of industry clout is the Tobacco Business Law, one of a string of related measures dating to 1904. The law says the government must own at least 50% of JT in perpetuity and, as a matter of national policy, "promote the healthy development of the tobacco industry and ensure stable revenue in the interest of a sound national economy."
In contrast to the Finance Ministry's large tobacco section, the Health Ministry doesn't have a single full-time official working on smoking issues ・even though smoking accounts for the nation's highest level of premature deaths, triple the number of suicides and nine times that of traffic fatalities.
The national health budget this year for anti-smoking awareness is $180,000, for a practice that kills 95,000 Japanese a year. By comparison, the budget for the prevention of AIDS, which kills approximately 45 people a year, is $94 million.
Horrific stuff- gruesome. I don't even know where to start pulling it all apart.
Yikes. I'm glad I stopped smoking. We were just talking yesterday about smoking in Japan.
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