Foreign Violators of Street Smoking Ban IncreaseInsufficient Notification for Tourists, Kyoto City18 October 2014 - Local topics
The number of foreigners who violate Kyoto City's ordinance banning street smoking has been increasing. This is presumably because public non-smoking areas include popular tourist attractions, as well as due to the growth in the number of tourists visiting Japan. This year's ratio of foreigners in the total number of violators has almost doubled since last year. Believing that "many smoke without knowing of the ban," the city is distributing multilingual leaflets to make the ordinance widely known.
"I didn't know since I hadn't seen any no-smoking signs," said a bewildered Dutch tourist at "Nishiki Market" in Nakagyo Ward, one of the designated non-smoking areas. He said that in his home country, smoking in buildings is banned as a general rule, but he had never heard of a ban on street smoking. A 27-year old university student from Taiwan said, "I knew there are non-smoking areas in Kyoto, but I didn't know that I was in one of those areas."
The ordinance bans street smoking in the city center surrounded by Karasuma, Kawaramachi, Oike and Shijo Streets, in the area adjacent to Kiyomizu-dera Temple and Gion, and around JR Kyoto Station. Violators must pay an administrative fine of 1,000 yen.
According to the city, among the 1,843 violators fined administratively this year from April to September, there were 216 foreigners, comprising 11.7%. In the same period last year, the number was 165 out of 2,452, comprising 6.7%. Violators are from 40 countries, among which Chinese, Koreans and Americans rank high.
According to a city investigation, the number of foreign hotel guests within the city last year exceeded one million for the first time, reaching 1,130,000, a 35-percent year-on-year increase. The section promoting safe living in the city government said, "The ordinance has become fairly well-known among citizens and overall, violators have decreased in number. However it is difficult to inform tourists."
Therefore, leaflets explaining the ordinance in English, Chinese and Korean have been placed in tourist information centers in the city since this summer. Kyoto City Tourism Association and Kyoto Convention Bureau also have notifications about the ordinance on their websites in English. Nonetheless, these efforts have not led to a decrease in the number of violations. This unique issue for a city of international tourism will remain unsolved for a while.
* Kyoto City's ordinance banning smoking on the street covering the central area, including Shijo-Kawaramachi and others, was implemented in June 2007. In February 2012, areas adjacent to Kiyomizu-dera Temple and JR Kyoto Station were added. Inspectors patrol the non-smoking areas and violators must pay an administrative fine.(translated by Galileo, Inc.)