Smoking rooms inside Japan's shinkansen bullet train cars will completely disappear next spring, as more railway operators adhere to the country's growing health consciousness and decline in smoking habits.

Central Japan Railway Co., better known as JR Tokai, West Japan Railway Co. and Kyushu Railway Co. announced in mid-October their respective decisions to abolish the smoking rooms from their bullet trains connecting major cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Fukuoka.

Vacant spaces created by the abolishment of smoking rooms will be used to store drinking water for passengers in times of emergency, such as when people are trapped inside cars for a long time, the companies said.

Supplied photo shows a smoking room on a Tokaido Shinkansen Line train. (Photo courtesy of Central Japan Railway Co.)(Kyodo)

JR Tokai had allowed passengers to smoke in their seats in some cars until 2020. Enclosed smoking rooms were installed in the upgraded N700 series train model that was introduced in 2007.

Currently, the Tokaido, Sanyo and Kyushu shinkansen lines have smoking rooms in two or three cars, but all of them will be scrapped.

JR West also plans to eliminate smoking areas at eight stations on the Sanyo Shinkansen Line, including Shin-Kurashiki Station in Okayama Prefecture and Shin-Onomichi Station in Hiroshima Prefecture.

East Japan Railway Co. and Hokkaido Railway Co. have already banned smoking inside their bullet train cars.

The latest move reflects the continuing fall in Japan's smoking rate, with a 2022 health ministry survey showing the figure for males standing at 25.4 percent, down 3.4 percentage points from 2019, and that for females at 7.7 percent, down 1.1 points.

The Japanese government has also been stepping up efforts to address concerns over secondhand smoke under a revised health promotion law that came into effect in 2020.

Reacting to the announcement from JR Tokai, many on social media seemed to welcome the news, with one post saying it is "a step towards promoting health," but some expressed disappointment.

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