Here
and
Now

kuchikomi

Ranks of 'refugee smokers' surging with no place to puff

18 Comments

"When I smoked here, I was issued a warning by a street patrol," the 50-ish man tells Weekly Playboy (May 3). "Anyway the next day I went back to the same spot for a smoke. I wish there were more places around here where smoking is permitted." 

To engage in his habit, he had found an isolated nook at the foot of an office building in west Shinjuku where people weren't likely to notice. 

It seems that from April 2020, the routines of smokers were greatly disrupted, thanks to the bill for the amendment of the Health Promotion Law going into effect. The new regulations effectively ban smoking indoors. Moreover, on the same day Tokyo Prefecture put into effect a passive smoker prevention ordinance that, among other things, prohibits an employee of an establishment that serves food and beverages from smoking on the premises. 

The above effectively leave smokers with a dearth of designated smoking places. What's more, measures to enforce social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic have caused many of these spots to be shut down for the duration. 

Hard data is difficult to come by, but a survey by a marketing firm conducted last February found that 69% of the respondents agreed places available for them to light up had declined in number. As a woman in her 30s, working in sales, puts it, "Unless you are savvy to the neighborhood, finding a place to smoke takes a lot of effort."

A male systems engineer in the same age group remarked, "I start feeling grouchy while I waste time hunting for a place to light up. When I take business trips, along with checking the train connections I also use an app to confirm the places where I'll be allowed to smoke."

According to the aforementioned survey, since the new law went into effect, 59% of smokers said they have had the experience of searching for a place to smoke, and about 75% replied they now tend to devote more time to the endeavor. 

The searches aren't always successful. One man employed in the IT sector said he might be forced to sneak into the corner of a parking lot or other out-of-the-way spot for a smoke. "There's no place to smoke around the station where I commute, so I'm lighting up more frequently while walking to the station," he said. 

More people engaging in aruki tabako (smoking while walking) means more discarded butts on the ground. An employee of the Shinjuku Ward Sanitation Department tells the magazine, "From last April more people were discarding butts on the streets. What's more, they buy canned coffee beverages, use the cans as ashtrays and then toss the cans. The situation has particularly worsened around Nishi Shinjuku. We're taking added countermeasures, including boosting patrols." 

Just to the west of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building is Shinjuku Central Park, the only "oasis" for smokers in the immediate area. 

"On some days around lunch break, I can count about 300 people standing there smoking. Most of them seem to be government workers," says a member of the smoking patrol.

To add insult to injury, from April 8, the park's smoking corner was ordered closed between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. 

Of course, we should not ignore that the Tokyo government is also paying out subsidies for property owners to set up corners for smokers. In the three years from 2018 to 2020, the number of subsidies paid out were 17, 144 and 50, respectively. 

But in busy spots like around Shinjuku Station, smoking spots are few and far between. 

"We've received requests from people asking to make more spaces available," says the aforementioned sanitation department worker. "But others in the vicinity complain about the smoke fumes and litter left behind by the smokers." 

Shigeo Kobayashi, professor at Tokyo Metropolitan University, favors a solution that would temporarily relax restrictions related to the corona pandemic and adopt more flexible standards.  

He concedes, however, that it's hard to defend smokers who leave a mess in their wakes. 

"In order to protect the rights of smokers, it's important for smokers first of all to mind their manners," Kobayashi says.

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

18 Comments
Login to comment

If these disgruntled smokers are in the Tokyo area, I recommend they go to the TGIFs in Shibuya. Smoke all you want there in indoor comfort! The main central section is for smokers and you can even send your thick clouds of smoke wafting into the smaller non-smoking sections squeezed along the periphery, as there are no barriers whatsoever.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

"In order to protect the rights of smokers, it's important for smokers first of all to mind their manners," Kobayashi says.

Smoker have to be forced not to litter and cause cancer of others around them with their disgusting habit. We all see addicted losers smoking in areas designated for non-smoking forcing others to inhale the 5000 chemicals in a cigarette which they then throw on the ground when done as if the world was their ashtray.

Smokers, here is a fix for your pathetic situation, quit.

Regarding TGIF in Shibuya, non-smokers let the smokers their spread cancer to themselves. Never go to a restaurant that allows smoking.

2 ( +11 / -9 )

I used to. Now, I don't. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Tobacco products should be banned. How can the same government responsible for funding and overseeing national health sell cigarettes?

5 ( +12 / -7 )

In order to protect the rights of smokers, it's important for smokers first of all to mind their manners

If they minded their manners they wouldn't be smokers in the first place.

about 75% replied they now tend to devote more time to the endeavor

Life isn't long enough to waste time looking for places to burn money. Especially when you're a smoker, you likely haven't got as long as the rest of us.

To add insult to injury

Stopping people smoking isn't any kind of injury, it's doing them (and the rest of us) a favour.

More people engaging in aruki tabako (smoking while walking) means more discarded butts on the ground.

People with no regard for the cleanliness of their own bodies cannot be expected to have any regard for the cleanliness of the public streets others have to use.

Tobacco should be made a controlled substance, and addicts should be enrolled in a programme to help them quit. Those refusing to quit should be denied national health insurance.

Smoking offers not a single benefit, and a mountain of misery. Just, don't.

-5 ( +9 / -14 )

Boku DayoToday  11:10 am JST

I used to. Now, I don't. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Yes, it certainly was.

Up until a few years ago I smoked for over 50 years and then stopped, cold turkey, no patches or gum. It was the hardest thing I've ever done but I'm so glad I did. More than a little pleased with myself too.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

I have never smoked in my life, not even once to try it for fun. I understand though that we're all human and we have all our own vices, whether it's food, alcohol or smoking.

My general motto is, live and let live - do whatever you want to your own body. Smoking, unfortunately, is one of those vices that affects others very easily, mainly through secondhand smoke. I appreciate that many places are becoming nonsmoking because I am allergic to the smoke itself, the smell really annoys me, and it stains my clothes with an awful stench.

But I do find the following phrasing problematic:

rights of smokers

People have the right to smoke, but they should not be treated as a protected class of citizen. This is habit you pick up along the way, not something you are innately born with.

I wonder though, if any of these people who have hard time finding a place to smoke, ever thought to themselves, "Smoking is no longer a viable habit, it's getting harder to find places to do so, maybe I should just quit?"

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Didn't most of the world pass these smoking restriction laws in 1990?

I'd think the best location for smoking would be on rooftops. Setup a corner with butt holders and let smokers and friends have at it. Airports have smoking rooms with high volume air exchanges.

Had a girlfriend who smoked, once. It was like kissing an ashtray. Not for me.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Perhaps some tech savvy inventor can develop a pocket hookah that with the discrete push of a button ignites the tobacco, with a tube running up ones sleeve, the smoker could then covertly inhale the desired drag, with no unused smoke other than what is exhaled. Like vaping, just less obvious.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Of course, we should not ignore that the Tokyo government is also paying out subsidies for property owners to set up corners for smokers. In the three years from 2018 to 2020, the number of subsidies paid out were 17, 144 and 50, respectively.

Huh tax money wasted on this filthy disgusting habit for this W T F ?

Koike you have failed once again

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

More people engaging in aruki tabako (smoking while walking) means more discarded butts on the ground.

As a smoker, I must say this particular habit (and the litter) annoys me even more than shrill Americans (other nationalities are available) pulling faces and telling me it's soooo bad for you.

Yes, I know. That's why I don't spark up in front of you, or in your houses. Leave us a wee bit of space, please.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

and litter left behind by the smokers

Litter? A cig butt is nothing compared to the photos I have of littering here and the unbelievable garbage tossed daily by almost everyone. If we did not have little old ladies with hunch backs sweeping daily this place would look worse then the Shanghai River basin.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Litter? A cig butt is nothing

Visit a water treatment plant where all the butts have to be removed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dz-fJvVBRB4 - be careful where you throw those butts.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It may not really affect statistics but maybe a tiny silverlining of the pandemic is that more people will be able to quit smoking.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Of course, we should not ignore that the Tokyo government is also paying out subsidies for property owners to set up corners for smokers. In the three years from 2018 to 2020, the number of subsidies paid out were 17, 144 and 50, respectively.

Plenty of subsidy money for big LDP donor Japan Tobacco to help with their addiction business model. All the rest of you to the back of the line.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Poor addicts.

''Litter? A cig butt is nothing''.

They build up, because the addicted ones keep returning to the same spot. We had to put a no-smoking sign on the side of our building and chase them away like a cockroach infestation because these junkies started gathering there, and leaving crap all over the place.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If these weak willed creatures can’t wait until they get home I have no sympathy for them. Simple solution, stop smoking.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

theFuApr. 29  11:35 pm JST

Didn't most of the world pass these smoking restriction laws in 1990?

I'd think the best location for smoking would be on rooftops. Setup a corner with butt holders and let smokers and friends have at it. Airports have smoking rooms with high volume air exchanges.

Had a girlfriend who smoked, once. It was like kissing an ashtray. Not for me.

I, too, had a girlfriend that smoked and it was like kissing an ashtray. However, she did have a couple of attributes that made me forget about the smoke.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites