Transportation Bureau Chief Koichi Kato said the ban was needed to prevent tobacco companies from bolstering their ads on commuter links once the TV ad blackout starts.
"We reflected on the current trend and we felt a responsibility, considering the public nature of our transportation system," Kato was quoted as saying in the Yomiuri Shimbun.
The ad ban will come into effect in phases as advertising contracts between tobacco com panies and the transport bureau expire, a bureau official said. Cigarette advertising contracts will not be renewed once they expire.
In fiscal 1996, cigarette advertising revenues were $648,000, or 3% of the Tokyo subway system's $22.4 million total advertising revenue.
Bureau officials said they could not say whether other metropolitan transport systems in Japan would follow suit.
Copyright March 1998, Crain Communications Inc.