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Asia's rising tobacco epidemic


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@Adam Shrimpton

I get what your saying, but, I think to just sit down next to someone, and subject them to your cigarette smoke is, to say the least, rude and self-centered.

If people want to smoke, let them. However, if I'm enjoying a beer, or good yakitori, and a smoker starts puffing away, stinking up my food, and my beer (which I love), then I'm well within my rights to complain.

I have friends who smoke, but, they make an effort not to smoke when I'm eating. They don't flick their cigarette butts on the ground. I think if more smokers had been as thoughtful, anti-smoking laws wouldn't have been passed in many cities.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

One thing that's put me off meeting (Japanese) girls in bars, was always the large amount of them that smoked. It was also one of the reasons I didn't socialise with many Japanese males, either.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@Adam I recently went into the Smoking 'cublicle' at Shibya Hachiko exit to get a smoke. It was raining but there were many smokers, old, young, men, women, with umbrella and without. Smokers are people who are generally more socializing and interact with other people more easily and they are taking risks more easily than non-smokers. In any case, had a small chat with some of the people, something non-smokers typically don't start. I always thought these designated smoking areas are discriminating but there's also often a bit of an exotic flair to them, like an oasis in a desert of mindless people, who don't stop and take a break once in a while to realize the world around them. Plus, smokers are time-managers: they go for a cigarette for five minutes and it's a moment of stopping the hurry and start reflecting for a moment. This is what the militant non-smokers will never realize, in their hurried, controlled and managed lifes.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

@wtfjapan, wrong. Smokers here tend to smoke right outside entryways, where the air then gets sucked into the building and circulates even faster. No Smoking areas are unenforced, even at the airports here. The result is that stinking smoke smell everywhere, including inside. At least in Japan, people tend to smoke only in designated areas. Not all, but most.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Hygienist and moralistic people at their bests!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I smoke and I think it's great that Japan is one of the few places left where you can actually smoke indoors legally. There are lots of bans in place around the world, but they're very rarely enforced. I was recently in the Philippines and Thailand and smoking is supposed to be banned indoors in both countries, but most people turn a blind eye if you do (and give you an ashtray).

But to be honest, I don't actually have too much of a problem with going outside to smoke. I do in most other countries and it's actually a great way to meet lots of new people, rather than just sit in a bar / restaurant on your own or just with people you know. This could be a major issue in Japan though, because smoking is not allowed in the streets (you have to go to a designated smoking area) and unless they rescind that law, bars and restaurants are suddenly going to have to be dealing with inebriated people who go to the nearest smoking area in a given area and then, due to being inebriated, forget that they have a bar tab somewhere and go get the train home, forgetting to pay.

The only issue I do have is with 'holier-than-thou' anti-smoking nazis who like to jump onto forums, comment boards like this and vent their rubbish in bars and other places (and these people always seem to be American for some reason). I know that smoking is unhealthy, I know that it may smell to people who don't like it and I know that people may not want to breathe in second hand fumes. However, unlike in other countries, I am actually legally allowed to smoke in those establishments and I will continue to do so until such a day as they ban it or that establishment goes no smoking. So I will, despite what these people say. They have the choice whether or not they're sitting next to me and they have the choice to visit Japan or not, where this is allowed (and nine times out of ten, these people are just visitors). If they don't like it, then they should visit another country where smoking is not allowed inside (or stay in the States) or go stand around outside where they won't have to breathe in second hand smoke, as outside is smoker-free, as it is a banned and fineable offence. However, please try not to pay attention to all the other fumes and toxins that you'll be breathing in when you do go outside in Tokyo or any other city around the world, as you'll be breathing in a lot more carcinogens in an hour than you would do sitting in a bar where people are smoking.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

The stupidity of allowing smoking in public places in Japan is sure to become a point of constant criticism. But the essential point is simple: people vote with their feet: I liked the proposals above (and thank you for enumerating them): (1) Ban smoking in public places, except for areas that are clearly designated and have approved ventilation. (2) Ban smoking in restaurant franchises and bars. (3) Let privately owned restaurants and bars choose either non-smoking or smoking, but not both -- their customers will sort them out.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

"anti-smoking laws". Yet another reason why those primitive folks back in Asia are supposed to catch up with the West, right? And yet another excuse for the ban-happy crew to impose their holy will over other people. It's an awful practice, yes, but an epidemic? Seriously, like dengue? It's something people do voluntarily, for god's sake!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Smoking can be great for a couple of reasons. Nicotine is a nerve poison and as that it can be either a benefit or a hazard. It all depends on the situation, condition and what you want to achieve. Of course most people who started smoking are getting mindlessly addicted and need their kick every 30 minutes. This is the lifestyle of the modern: take everything in excess!

Ok, now you can down rate my comment in three... Two... One ...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Big tobacco has a powerful reach around the world, but sensible anti-smoking laws/regulations can go a long way toward reducing the number of new smokers, and protecting non-smokers from second-hand smoke.

As harsh as it may be, banning smoking in bars and restaurants is the best way to protect non-smokers. Tobacco doesn't enhance the taste of beer or spirits. Food and ash do not go well together.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There's nothing stinkier than the breath of a person who smokes. It smells like dog doo-doo.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

TessaSEP. 19, 2014 - 07:43AM JST Is it really true that a full third of all Japanese men smoke? Personally I find it very easy to avoid cigarette smoke in Japan (but then, I don't play pachinko or hang out in bars or izakaya).

Some people leave their house more often than you perhaps. Can't count the number of times we've had to leave a bar, cafe, restaurant etc. because smokers think we like their smoke in our faces.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

'smoking is disgusting, barbaric, blah blah blah.' please....

Rotting trash is disgusting, dog poo is disgusting. Chill out people.

In the US you're a pariah when you have a smoke, yet obesity levels are OVER 9000 over there. The oldest person in the world is usually Japanese. It's definitely not good for you, but that list is long as hell. Living kills!!!

If they ban smoking in nightclubs, it's gonna smell like sweat and Axe in there, real nice.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

@Magnet go into a bar club restuarant shopping center, any enclosed public space and you wont smell anything, same cant be said in Japan

0 ( +2 / -2 )

In Japan... the government raised taxes on cigarettes in June—the first increase for 17 years.

That doesn't sound right. Just a decade ago, it was only about 300 yen/pack, and they've raised it incrementally.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Smoking is tough to overcome because nicotine, when ingested, makes you feel relaxed, and as smoking becomes a habit, your body develops a physical and psychological addiction to nicotine. That's why when a smoker tries to quit smoking, withdrawal symptoms occur. But it is not impossible to quit smoking. Simply reducing the number of cigarettes does nothing to lower a smoker's risk of cancer. That's why complete abstinence is required. Quit cold turkey because it's the only way to go. But you have to start eating right, exercising and also address the emotional reasons if you truly want to kick the habit

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I wouldn't be surprised that by the time of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, the only place you can smoke are bars--all restaurants, including izakaya establishments, will have banned smoking by then. There might even be a concerted effort to ban cigarette vending machines, too.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Thank you LDP for setting policies which result in the cheapest prices for cigarettes (but the most expensive fruit and vegetable prices) in the G8.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Smokers are addicts, plain and simple. Anyone arguing that and claiming they can just quit when they want to is quite deluded for they are clearly doing something that on average shortens lives by 14 years. Why you'd justify a habit like this and claim you're not an addict is just one of the signs YOU'RE AN ADDICT!!! If you really want to quit, get some professional help and quit.

Perhaps if 'they' want smoking to stop, why not just paint it for what is, a drug addict's life and then make it NOT COOL, and A VERY UNSOCIABLE AND PERVERSE LIFESTYLE. Once the media, mass advertising and social media do their number on it, smokers will be as acceptable as pedophiles in society. That should take care of those that thought about quitting, the rest will find out the hard way as they always do in life.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Smoking is barbaric. I don't find anything beneficial to this inhumane habit. To see these news and informations about people wanting to smoke makes me want to scold all smokers I see. Asia should do more than just taxes and graphic labels. They should just ban the stuff. I'd rather smell and suck the odor of my pet cat than bombard my lungs with irritating cancerous compound.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Unfortunately smoking has gotten worse in my city. We have the laws but apparently they're not being enforced hard enough. But I think its also because we have too many people moving in from outside of Colorado and just lighting up anywhere and everywhere they feel like it. Just saw a woman with a baby in a stroller just puffing away... All the anti-smoking ads seem to be going unheeded. Even with e-cigs being much less intrusive (and a cheaper way to poison oneself) on passerby and nearby non-smokers are being totally ignored in favor of their carbon monoxide producing uncle.

I say start by banning burning tobacco cigs, and only producing e-cigs... then we can work our way from there.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I don't understand how cigarettes relieve stress.

I've never smoked, but I assume the stress comes from the fact that you are already addicted to them and therefore need a smoke. So when people smoke they feel like they are relieving their work stress, when in fact that are just relieving their smoke stress.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I used to think Japan was bad with smoking, until I moved to Australia. Sydney CBD smells like an ashtray.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Was just recently in Vancouver, Canada and was shocked (in a good way) to find out they have banned smoking in all restaurants, bars, night clubs, patios of bars and restaurants. Funny thing was it was mainly the Asians that were all huddled outside smoking like it was going out of style. People walking by all giving them the evil stares mainly because the smokers were all spitting around. Another nasty smoker's habit besides littering.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I don't understand how cigarettes relieve stress. They just make me nauseated and kind of anxious...

If they actually relieved stress like, uh, ALCOHOL does...I would smoke all the time.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Went out to an izakaya last night and was absolutely shocked to find that out of our 9 person group, not one person smoked (2 had recently quit). Izakaya without smoke is surprisingly good!

Cant wait for them to ban smoking in nightclubs

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Keep the smoke rising people, it's cool, show it to your children that it's cool to smoke too. Who cares about cancer when you can be cool right ? Also it's good for the stocks value to keep rising and rising. Keep it up!

6 ( +7 / -1 )

What do you expect, given that tobacco is one of most Asian governments' guaranteed sources of steady, reliable tax revenue? Or, when most dominant Asian tobacco companies are directly or indirectly controlled by these same tax-hungry governments?

By the way, why are Japanese smokers still so slow to switch to "e-cigarettes" where the "passive smoke" is not smoke at all but merely water aerosol?? Surely this habit could also be heavily taxed, yet the benefits to society (in terms of clean air, litter reduction, health care, etc.) could be huge? E-cigarettes could additionally be a compromise strategy to be wedged in between the rather unsatisfactory present options of a) letting things continue as they are or b) using government coercion to ban all tobacco products altogether?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

It is always so nice to travel to a clean country and so disappointing to come back to Japan.

I was in Manila a couple of days ago and could safely go into any restaurant without having to worry about sitting in a cloud of some moron's smoke. Then I have to come back here to the filth and the stench. Let's hope Japan improves soon.

0 ( +9 / -9 )

Ban smoking in public places, except for areas that are clearly designated and have approved ventilation. Ban smoking in restaurant franchises and bars. Let privately owned restaurants and bars choose either non smoking or smoking, but not both, their customers will sort them out.
8 ( +10 / -2 )

Tessa, I have to ask are you being sarcastic?

I wherever possible look for smoke free restaurants and support them with my patronage, which while thankfully are increasing certainly aren't everywhere.

The number of times I have seen parents light up right next to their children in restaurants, and family type restaurants, not izakaya, etc really makes me quite sad.

At some stage someone will say something about "what about the right of people to smoke"..

I don't know I would ever want to see an enforced ban of cigarettes outright, because people should be to a degree free to decide what they do, however they are a proven cancer causing carcinogen, unlike drinking or eating or any other parallel smokers try to raise, a smoker can't sit right next, or even nearby, to another person and have a smoke without that potentially effecting other people, customers, workers, passersby.

This isn't to mention the odd exception overall to Japanese people usually very considerate behaviour.. and then throwing the butts on the ground..

With the Olympics coming there isn't long to start dragging Japan out of the past and into the present on this issue.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

Is it really true that a full third of all Japanese men smoke? Personally I find it very easy to avoid cigarette smoke in Japan (but then, I don't play pachinko or hang out in bars or izakaya).

1 ( +8 / -7 )

Smoking is disgusting and obtrusive to others around you. Ban it, Japan.

15 ( +21 / -6 )

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