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Tobacco Control Lessons from the Higgs Boson: Observing a Hidden Field Behind Changing Tobacco Norms in Japan


Mark Levin


University of Hawaii at Manoa - William S. Richardson School of Law

March 12, 2013

American Journal of Law and Medicine, 39 (2013): 471-489

Abstract:     
From a tobacco control law and policy perspective, Japan has been doing it all wrong. Or so it might seem. At the very least, tobacco control activists in Japan have had few successes obtaining the standard run of law and policy measures -- mandatory smoke-free workplace laws, substantial tax increases, effective package warning labeling, industry document disclosures, judicial awards of meaningful damages for death and disease caused by tobacco products, strict age-control enforcement, etc. Yet over the past twenty years, domestic tobacco use measured by either prevalence or consumption has plummeted while smoke-free environments, albeit often with designated smoking areas, have become amply normed. Something seems to be happening to generate good results despite only limited help from the standard tools.

The obvious first question is “How did that happen?” Next must be “Is there anything we can learn from this for other settings?” While quick responses might attribute an unfathomable “Japaneseness” in the circumstances, a closer look points to more generic dynamics among the lead factors.

This paper tentatively posits a set of five social and rational economic factors at play that are anything but uniquely Japanese. These suggest hopeful potentials for global tobacco control efforts. But there is no panacea here. While domestic circumstances in Japan have greatly improved, Japan Tobacco Inc. remains a powerful global industry force. Its Tokyo home-base has provided a safe territory regrettably protecting it from the degree of notoriety that counterparts Philip Morris and British American Tobacco appropriately receive. That gap, particularly with regards to Article 5.3 of the global Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, calls for action within Japan and abroad.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 19

Keywords: Japan, Japanese law, Smoking, Tobacco Control, Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, FCTC, Health Promotion Law, Japan Tobacco Inc., JT, Japan Tobacco International, JTI, public health law, legal change, legal culture, social norms change

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Date posted: March 13, 2013 ; Last revised: May 18, 2013

Suggested Citation

Levin, Mark, Tobacco Control Lessons from the Higgs Boson: Observing a Hidden Field Behind Changing Tobacco Norms in Japan (March 12, 2013). American Journal of Law and Medicine, 39 (2013): 471-489. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2230999

Contact Information

Mark Levin (Contact Author)
University of Hawaii at Manoa - William S. Richardson School of Law ( email )
2515 Dole Street
Honolulu, HI 96822
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.law.hawaii.edu/levin
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