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Taxi smoking ban to take effect before Summit (April 15, 2008)

The Sapporo Hired-car Association yesterday announced that it would implement a total ban on smoking in taxis that would also be applicable to passengers starting on July 1. The association, which is comprised of 74 taxi companies in the Sapporo transportation area (Sapporo, Ebetsu, Ishikari and Kitahiroshima), had planned to begin the ban four months later, but the schedule has been brought forward to coincide with the Hokkaido Toyako Summit, which will begin on July 7. It will be the first time a hire-car association in Hokkaido has implemented such a measure.

Smoking will be completely banned in approximately 6,800 taxis in the area, including individually owned cabs, from July. According to the Sapporo Hired-car Association, all taxis will display stickers indicating the ban, and backseat ashtrays will be removed or sealed. Passengers wishing to smoke will be provided with portable ashtrays for use outside the cars.

Masayuki Shido, the chair of the association's Management and Labor Committee and the president of Daikoku Kotsu taxi company, commented, "A total smoking ban is now being adopted in more areas throughout Japan. In Tokyo, where the measure was introduced in January, no problems have been reported. We would like to implement the ban in Hokkaido and promote our efforts before the Summit, which will be visited by many people from Japan and overseas."

The Tokyo-based Japan Federation of Taxicab Associations says that a total smoking ban in taxis was implemented in 21 prefectures as of April 1. In Hokkaido, the Hakodate Hire Association has decided to adopt a total ban from next January, and Asahikawa is also looking into the introduction of such a ban.

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