a detailed proposal to halve the percentage of smokers by 2010 was unveiled recently by the Japanese government. This is for the first time that the health and welfare ministry has set numerical targets in its effort to control cigarette smoking. It plans to force tobacco companies reveal more information about their products and aims to regulate smoking in public areas.
The per capita cigarettes smoked in Japan, is the highest among the industrialised nations, the ministry said. However, the ministry may face resistance from the finance ministry, which not only collects substantial revenue from cigarette taxes but also holds a majority stake in Japan Tobacco. The ministry has noted that lung cancer surpassed stomach cancer as the deadliest form of the disease in Japan last year. The finance ministry expects to collect us $7.77 billion in cigarette-related taxes in the financial year.