People who resent being exposed to cigarette smoke at the workplace, in restaurants and in other public places have been becoming increasingly militant in demonstrating their dislike.
Spa! (Dec 23) presents four somewhat extreme case studies of these "psychotic" smoke-haters.
In Case 1, volunteer groups patrol an apartment building to hound residents who smoke.
"A couple of years ago, I was in the habit of going out on my apartment's balcony for a smoke," a man named Hojo recalls. "Then I received a complaint from the neighbor upstairs, who insisted that my smoke was causing his drying laundry balcony to smell of tobacco."
As 80% of the members of the cooperative where Hojo lives are nonsmokers, their votes on the matter invariably carry the day. Like the decision to adopt the slogan, "Let's create a smoke-free living environment that keeps smoke out of children's eyes." The building's balconies and other common-use areas were, henceforth, put off-limits to smokers.
"More than once, smoke haters began pounding on my door, shouting in a loud voice, 'Mr Hojo, the exhaust fan is spreading the smoke from your apartment into the corridors!'"
Then six months ago came the straw that broke the camel's back, when the leader of the patrol rang Hojo's doorbell around 11 p.m. Waving a cigarette butt in his hand, he said, "This was dropped in the parking lot. It's yours, isn't it?"
"When I denied it," relates Hojo, "he shouted, 'You liar! You're the only smoker living in this building!' Finally I couldn't take it any more. I'm thinking of moving out."
Case 2 introduces an immature married couple who team up to treat smokers as criminals. In Case 3, the wife of a friend sprays a guest arriving at her front door, who happens to be a smoker, with aerosol deodorizer.
And in Case 4, during a "gokon" (matchmaking party) an agreeable young woman undergoes a complete change of demeanor after a few drinks.
"I just said, 'I'm going to have a smoke now and lit up,'" the man at the party relates. "The smile vanished from her face and she took on the countenance of a demon. 'Put that out, right this minute! If I inhale your secondary smoke, I'll feel sick the next day and unable to do my job. Cigarette smoke spoils the meal too. The cook worked so hard to prepare it --- you should show him some respect. Only Japan permits this kind of behavior. You said you work for a trading company, so surely you know the way it's done in other countries?'"
Spa! also polled its readers regarding smoking etiquette.
During a business discussion at a coffee shop or restaurant, what sort of act concerning smoking do you regard as good manners?
The most common reply was requesting 'Do you mind if I smoke' beforehand, with 57 responses. This was followed by getting up from the table and smoking outside (37); first asking "Do you mind if we sit in the smoking section?" (36); moving to a seat that's downwind from the other person (28); refraining from lighting up until the main meal is finished (28); and blowing smoke in a direction away from you (26).
What sort of action do you take, non-smokers were asked. The most common reply, with 47 responses, was to depart the scene without saying anything. Next came a request not to smoke, so said by 31 respondents. This was followed by even after doing something to catch the smoker's attention without success, then departing the scene (with 27 responses); politely requesting that the person refrain from smoking (26); in situations where ventilation is possible, speaking out and then opening a window or turning on an exhaust fan (21); after complaining out loud, then moving away (17); and try to get the smoker's attention by coughing loudly (16).
Professor Masahiko Shimizu of Nihon Sports Science University, who's a non-smoker, points out that the Supreme Court's 1970 decision on the right to smoke is consistent with the Constitution's Article 13. It states "All of the people shall be respected as individuals. Their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness shall, to the extent that it does not interfere with the public welfare, be the supreme consideration in legislation and in other governmental affairs."
But then in 2003 came the "Health Promotion Act," by which the state became empowered to make decisions on behalf of a person if they constitute a benefit to his or her health. Taken to its logical extreme, worries Shimizu, Japan would revert to aspects of feudalism by which laws created for the public good threaten to interfere with personal rights. It's a matter, concedes the professor, that poses a "big problem." Until it gets worked out to everyone's satisfaction, at the very least, smokers need to mind their manners and abide by common-sense rules.© Japan Today