A pioneer of international fast-food chains, McDonald’s in Japan is starting to show a different side to their usual unhealthy image.

Not only did they add tofu nuggets for their menus last month, but the company has now prohibited smoking in all of its outlets in the country. Not being able to smoke in public places is nothing new to many countries around the world – for example, the Smoke-Free Environment Act in the USA dates back to 1993, and McDonalds supported and applied this to all its wholly owned restaurants back in 1994.

Japan’s McDonalds claims that the transition into a smoke-free chain had been in the works for years, but it was finally completed on August 1. A 100% no-smoking policy is still rare in Japan, and many major food chains such as Mos Burger and Lotteria have designated smoking areas inside their restaurants.

As the largest restaurant chain in Japan, conveniently located within walking distance from each other in most of around Tokyo, a smoking ban could affect their smoking customers’ satisfaction greatly. Since public smoking is not allowed in Japan except in designated areas, McDonalds is not only a place for cheap burgers and fries to satisfy your salt and fat cravings, but was also a casual hang out place for smokers.

A spokesman said that they aspire to create an environment where all of their customers can enjoy their meals, from young children to elderly people.

Whether the smoking-ban has a positive or negative effect on McDonald’s sales figures will unravel itself soon, but it is notable to say that it is a brave move in a time where they are still trying to recover from a substantial sales drop following the recent safety scandal involving chicken supplier Shanghai Husi Food Co.

– Mona Neuhauss

Main image: Sebra / Shutterstock