OBJECTIVE To document the effect of the liberalisation of the Japanese tobacco market on Japanese smoking rates and on Japanese tobacco industry practices.
DATA SOURCE Asahi Shimbun (major daily newspaper) from 1980 to 1996.
STUDY SELECTION Review of media coverage on the effects of market liberalisation following the imposition of the USA's section 301 trade sanction.
DATA SYNTHESIS The opening of Japan's tobacco market to foreign cigarette companies stalled a decline in smoking prevalence. Smoking rates among young women increased significantly, and also appear to be on the rise among adolescents. Aggressive marketing and promotional activities by US and Japanese tobacco companies in response to trade liberalisation appear responsible for these adverse trends. Steep increases in sales through vending machines were also possible contributors to the rising smoking prevalence among adolescents. On the positive side, market liberalisation indirectly promoted smoking control efforts in Japan, by causing an anti-smoking movement to coalesce.
CONCLUSION Market liberalisation in Japan played a significant role in increasing smoking prevalence among young women and adolescents while helping to transform the issue of smoking in Japan from a matter of individual choice to a public health problem.
- market liberalisation
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