How Japan Can Teach Us All Something About Vaping Regulations How Japan Can Teach Us All Something About Vaping Regulations

While Japan is working on implementing their first public tobacco bans, they’re ensuring vapers right’s remain intact

Once the evidence was overwhelmingly clear against tobacco, a vast majority of developed nations moved to prevent people from lighting up around others. While this move was justified with decades of research, lawmakers have chosen to simply apply these regulations to vaping. Things have gotten so dire that any example of an entire nation choosing to regulate vaping and smoking separately is a massive step forward in the fight for vaping rights.

Japan spent longer than almost any other nation fighting public smoking bans, but now these bans are finally becoming law. While this is a significant victory for the health and well-being of everyone living in Japan, it’s especially a fantastic win for the vaping community. This is because while the government is banning smoking in almost all public places, vaping and heat not burn devices will remain viable. With any luck, this move will help other nations take the plunge and begin to regulate vaping and smoking separately.

The Newest Tobacco Ban

Understanding how Japan got to where it takes a little explanation. It all starts to make more sense when you realize that Japan Tobacco, which is one of the largest tobacco companies in the world, started out as a federally run business. Even to this day, their government owns a full 30% of the company, helping to subsidize their taxes. Given this fact, it’s no surprise that it took so long for Japan to actively work against the dangers of tobacco. These days, however, there is far too much information to hide such a blatant conflict of interest.

Many experts believe that another significant reason for this announcement happening now is that Japan is getting ready for the upcoming 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. It won’t be until the spring of 2020 that the smoking ban comes into full effect across the nation. Once it does smokers can expect to pay a fine equivalent to around $2700 if caught lighting up. It’s even worse for business owners who are hit with a nearly $4500 fine if anyone is caught smoking on the premises. The critical thing for vapers though is that vaping devices are not included in these bans. This includes traditional atomizer and e-liquid vaping as well as Heat-not-Burn devices like Philip Morris’ iQOS. It’s worth noting that at this time vaping products are considered medicinal in Japan, and as such can be quite challenging to get a hold of. Although this is likely to start changing as the ban begins taking effect.

The Tokyo Version

Given that the Olympics are the main reason for the new ban, and they’re going to be centered in the major city of Tokyo, the version of the ban there is a bit stricter. The Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly passed an alternate version of the ban that takes the new regulations and turns up the heat. For example, in the nationwide version of the ban, around 45% of bars and restaurants will be affected. But this number is reported to be as high as 85% in Tokyo. Their hope is that by making a stricter ban and implementing it sooner, they’ll be able to reduce the number of smokers there by 2020 significantly.

That being said, smoking will still be allowed in select indoor public spaces. As you can imagine, places like schools and hospitals are entirely smoke-free, with no exceptions allowed. But many other types of public buildings, such as government buildings, will have small outdoor smoking areas. The other exceptions to the rule give the choice to the business owner. But, this is only allowed in cases where the only employees are family, or automated.


It’s taken a long time for vaping to gain even a little bit of legitimacy among legislators and public health officials. Even to this day, a majority of this group are much more willing to equate vaping with smoking than do the extra work to regulate them separately. It’s not even up for debate whether or not vaping and tobacco are the same, cause they’re empirically not the same thing. It seems that instead of doing their job, most officials just want the easy way out.

Given how common this stance has become, it’s wonderful to see such an influential nation take a stand and use different regulations for such different things. Polls have shown that not even 15% of adults realize that vaping is so much safer than smoking. What’s worse is that twice as many people are under the false understanding vaping is just as, if not more dangerous than tobacco. If we ever want to live in a world that’s free from smoking, more nations must do what Japan has done and regulate vaping and smoking as different things.

Does it matter what reasons Japan has for making this smoking, but not vaping, ban? Do you think that this move could help other nations do the same? What’s the best way to support vaping as a harm reduction and smoking cessation tool. Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.


Katie Bercham - CocktailNerd Editor

Katie actually had a negative first experience of electronic cigarettes, picking up a cheap and horrible model from my local mall. Thanks to a chance meeting with co-editor David, she hasn’t had a tobacco cigarette in over 5 years. She brings a strong female voice to the e-cig community.