Train stations in the Tokyo area will ban smoking from April 1, in another dent to Japan's reputation as a smokers' paradise, the railway company said Friday.
The Japan Railway Co. said it would eliminate most designated smoking sections at 226 stations along 17 major lines in the Tokyo region. The company already prohibits smoking inside local trains.
"Smoking bans are becoming the health trend in Japan," a company spokesman said. "Our company is making an effort to entirely separate people who smoke and don't."
However, a few stations will retain smoking areas in small rooms enclosed by glass.
"We are not worried about the smoking rooms, because there wouldn't be second-hand smoke and it prevents smoke from getting to non-smokers who don't like it," the spokesman said.
The company earlier designated smoking areas on the ends of the platforms of major stations but they were not enclosed.
Smoking is still commonplace in Japan's bars and restaurants, unlike in most other developed countries. But streets, trains and taxis are becoming increasingly smoke-free.
Authorities in Kanagawa prefecture, which includes Japan's second largest city of Yokohama, are studying whether to ban smoking in all bars, restaurants and other public places in what would be a first in the country.