Tokyo: The Japanese government on Friday worked out a fresh anti-cancer program that calls for reducing the rate of smoking among adults to 12 percent in fiscal 2022 through March 31, 2023, from the 19.5 percent in calendar 2010, government officials said.
The government of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda endorsed the program at Friday`s Cabinet meeting, which incorporated a target for the smoking rate for the first time.
Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yoko Komiyama told a regular news conference that the incorporation of such a numerical goal in the anti-cancer program represents a major step in the fight against cancer, noting that not smoking is effective to prevent cancer.
The new program, the second in a series, is intended to update the previous one drawn up in May 2007 under the 2007 cancer control law.
The officials said smoking is believed to increase the risks not only of lung but esophagus and bladder cancer.
Currently, four out of every 10 smokers are said to be hoping to quit the habit if they can.
The figure of 12 per cent was worked out on the assumption that those who wish to give up smoking will all quit, the officials said.
The government tried to incorporate such a numerical target in the previous program but gave it up in consideration of the cigarette industry.
In the new program, the numerical target was set to achieve the goals of those who wish to quit smoking -- a goal that is difficult for the tobacco industry to object to, the officials said.
The program also took up the issue of second-hand smoking and set the target rate for non-smokers who are exposed to smoking more than once a month to 15 per cent at restaurants and to 0 per cent at administrative and medical facilities, both by fiscal 2022.
It sets another target to reduce the rate of those exposed to smoke every day at homes to 3 per cent in fiscal 2022 from 10.7 per cent in calendar 2010 and also to realize worksites free from passive exposure to smoke by calendar 2020.
The program also calls for enhancing anti-cancer measures for workers and children and for building up hub medical facilities for child cancer patients. (Kyodo)