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Naha imposes smoking ban on Kokusai Dori

Date Posted: 2006-12-28

A new ordinance banning smoking on downtown Naha City’s Kokusai shopping street is stirring happiness and irritation from people on both sides of the issue.

The Naha City Assembly announced its new regulation striking down smoking on Kokusai Dori, effective next April 1st. The measure, the first of its kind in Okinawa, will punish smokers with a ¥10,000 fine.

A two-year grace period will be in effect for the new regulation, which bans cigarette and cigar smoking anywhere along the tourist street. Smoking is prohibited indoors or outdoors while walking, riding bicycles or motorcycles, but not while inside an automobile. Naha City says it will immediately begin promoting the new ordinance, but says only warning tickets will be issued until April 2009. It calls on both citizens and tourists to recognize the need for good behavior and good manners in a social world.

Smokers are angered by the new regulation, which they claim is discriminatory. “What about after midnight?” asks one smoker. “Who is going to give out tickets?” Another questioned whether the city is capable of enforcing such an ordinance.

The Disabled People’s Welfare Association and the Kokusai Street Arcade Association had pushed for anti-smoking rules, saying the streets would be cleaner and safer. The welfare association chairman, Aiko Miyagi, is going a step further in asking Naha City to extend the anti-smoking policy to the monorail system and public events arenas as well.

The Prefecture Tobacco Wholesale Business Association is taking a middle-of-the-road stance on the new measure. Chairman Shinobu Agena says “we understand the need to keep smokers’ manners up, to issue tickets, and to keep the streets clean. “ She says his group will do its best to promote clean smoking.

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