TOKYO (AFP) - Five teachers in Japan who sneaked off school grounds for a crafty cigarette in between lessons have been hit with hefty fines, officials said Tuesday.
Education board bosses docked up to 500,000 yen ($6,300) from each of the five after they were caught smoking outside school gates during the working day.
The five, who all work in the western city of Osaka, fell foul of a 2008 diktat by then-prefectural governor Toru Hashimoto, who imposed a total ban on lighting-up at all schools run by the authority.
Smoking is still commonplace in Japanese bars and restaurants, unlike in many other developed countries. But there are by-laws banning tobacco on streets, on railway platforms and at bus-stops.
While cigarette packets carry mandatory warnings of the health risks and there are public information campaigns, they are not as prominent as in other rich countries and the percentage of Japanese who smoke is comparatively high.