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Gov't figures show lowest ever percentage of smokers

42 Comments

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has released its latest figures on habitual cigarette smoking in Japan.

According to research conducted by the ministry, the percentage of people smoking in Japan has fallen below 20% for the first time since records began, Sankei Shimbun reported Wednesday.

The ministry's research showed that the percentage of smokers dropped 3.9% last year. The ministry also added that the percentage of respondents who commented that they would like to try to stop smoking is the highest on record at nearly 40%.

When divided by gender, the study found that the percentage of men who smoke regularly fell 6% to 32.2%. The study also showed that 8.4% percent of women smoke regularly, a drop of 2.5% on last year, the ministry said.

The percentage of men who expressed a desire to quit smoking was 35.9%, an increase of 4.2% on last year. Among women, the ministry said, there was a 2% increase on last year, with 43.6% saying they wanted to stop smoking, Sankei reported.

A ministry spokesperson suggested that the cigarette price hike last year may have led to an increase in people quitting smoking, or considering it.

The health ministry has also announced plans to decrease the percentage of smokers to 12.2% within 10 years in an attempt to combat cancer.

© Japan Today

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Bring cigarette prices in line with Australia (currently at $20 a pack?) and you will reach your target very quickly!

But I have a great idea that would help reduce the numbers even more: Start promoting smoking MANNERS the way they promote cell-phone manners. Japanese people in general are very polite, and wont answer/make a phone call in a restaurant out of politeness to other diners. But they will happily light up a cigarette without caring that they just ruined the entire meal for most people around them. I think once people start realising how much it offends other people, restaurants will clear up by themselves And then smokers will start questioning why they are smoking in the first place...

I am sure Japan Tobacco wouldnt want to let something like that go through though. Just keep promoting other environmental efforts, while doing nothing about reducing smoking numbers.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

But, 20% of Aussies still smoke regardless of the price, which is online with the Japanese statistic at four bucks a pack.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I saw this on the news last night. I do not believe the numbers for women. You can walk into most Izakaya and other restaurants and a lot more women are lighting up then what they suggest here. I think the polls are flawed and people lie.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

The health ministry has also announced plans to decrease the percentage of smokers to 12.2% within 10 years in an attempt to combat cancer.

Hope you reach this target in half that time. Atleast we can breath some clean tobacco free air. Also I hope my friendly neighbor (who smokes in his balcony [even in this weather] and pollutes my bedroom) quits smoking too.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

And yet cafes, restaurants, bars all cater to these 20% by allowing them to smoke pretty much where ever they want, when they want. I think the only reason Starbucks does so well here IS because its non-smoking. It's not for their coffee! More placed need to embrace a smoking ban and watch the customers come!

And yes, raise the prices but we all know the ossans who run this country won't - they enjoy it far too much to care about the rest of us.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

that number probably skyrockets if you add in the "only smoke when I drink" crowd.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Smokers can smoke all they want. The problem is secondhand smoke where you live - people smoke on the veranda or outside your genkan. And the air flow send the smoke right into your bedroom. Not a great way to greet the day.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Tmarie: Not in Kanagawa. YEah.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Not sure about the statistics personally, but restaurant and pub bans like in the UK would really be welcome. I walked out of a Chinese restaurant at lunch-time the other day having only half eaten my meal as 4 OL's and 2 truck drivers either side of me all lit up about the same time. Not only was I choking on their smoke, the food that is usually excellent just tasted vile.

Anyone have the latest update on when we can expect the change that has been rumoured for the last five or so years?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Non smoking doesnt bother the smokers at all, but now i've quit I hate smokey bars and restaurants more than anyone, clothes stink the next day too, and i hate walking past the smokers area outside stations etc.

People who choose to smoke should not have the choice of making everyone else endure the stink or the smoke.

Pleased i quit after smoking 4 packs a day for 40 years and pleased more n more pople are quitting.

Good once there are no more smokey bars etc.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

But, 20% of Aussies still smoke regardless of the price, which is online with the Japanese statistic at four bucks a pack.

True - I guess it's a sign of the two economies where one group can still afford to keep up this filthy habit at $20 a pack - (Australia is the most expensive place to smoke after Dubai I believe) - and the other nation is struggling to afford $5 packs! At least in Aussie they aren't allowed to inflict their filthy habit on the rest of us in pubs, cafe's and restaurants. That glass "divider" in the cafes here aint doing anything! I stopped going to cafes in Japan largely because I don't want to breathe that crap in.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

All smokers do understand what non-smokers go through due to the very fact that most of these smokers do not prefer travelling in a smoking car of shinkansen.

I hope someone develops lighters that could be lit only when certain frequency signal gets detected. This will control the smoker's habbit to lit their "smoking rods" only in designated areas. Unless ofcourse they do not lit with match sticks or brushing rocks. These days who carries them anyways?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

BTW - I have a suspicion this figure of 20% is a case of under-reporting to be honest. I know a few Japanese ladies who have told me they don't smoke - yet funnily enough I've smelt it on their breath and they had discoloured teeth!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

This old gag. Raising the price does nothing. It just makes people pay more for the drug they want. If you let this happen, sugar is next, then fastfood, then coffee. Teach manners and enforce no smoking zones in public places. As well, remove smoking from TV shows. Take down billboards and do away with cigarette machines altogether. Then you'll get results. If you don't like smoking in a particular bar or restaurant, don't go there.

I am not a smoker, either.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

When I take a walk at lunchtime the sidewalks reek of cigarette smoke. To me it seems there has been an increase of people smoking outside in public places.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Follow it by banning smoking from indoors.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

No wonder they want to double the sales tax.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

tmarie wrote:

I think the only reason Starbucks does so well here IS because its non-smoking.

I'm sure you're right. If you ask restaurant owners why they allow smoking, they'll usually say they fear losing customers if they prohibit it.

That's not what will happen, however. Two stories:

First story:

Twenty years or so ago some "crank" sued JR for not providing no-smoking cars on the Shinkansen. Rather than go to court, they agreed to designate one car on each train for no-smoking.

To their surprise, they discovered the no-smoking car would be jammed with people standing in the aisles while the rest of the cars had plenty of empty seats. When they first saw this, they naturally pointed out to the standing passengers (as a courtesy!) that seats were available in the next car.

The response from the passengers surprised them, however. Instead of thanking the staff and moving to the next car, the passengers complained that there were not enough no-smoking seats and continued standing. So (scratching their befuddled heads, no doubt), JR's managers increased ... and increased ... the number of no-smoking cars until until they found the right balance, that is, until almost all were no-smoking.

Second story:

About ten years ago, my wife and I were in the habit of going out to a movie two or three times a month and usually had dinner beforehand at an Indian restaurant nearby the theater. Of course, as with many Indian restaurants, they allowed smoking in the entire restaurant.

Every time we went there, like a stuck record, we asked them for a seat in a non-smoking area ("Sorry, we don't have one.") or in a corner where there are no smokers ("Uh, okay, we'll try ... but ... it may be difficult"). By and by, being regular customers, we came to know the owner/manager and pressed him continually to convert his smaller side-dining room into a no-smoking section.

He admitted that other customers also sometimes asked for non-smoking seats but resisted and resisted saying "most want to smoke." Finally, when I told him about JR's experience and pointed out that since the place was rarely more than half full he could test it without fear of turning anyone away, he agreed to give it a try. I told him to be sure to put a "No smoking section available" sign outside the door.

The next time we went there, he came rushing over and thanked us profusely for making him do that. He said his business had increased dramatically when he put the sign out. The biggest problem, he said was that for the first week he had people standing in line to sit in the non-smoking section while the larger smoking section remained half empty. He had been forced to reverse the sections making the small room for smoking and the main room no smoking.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I recommend always asking for a non-smoking seat in a restaurant or cafe, even if you don't think they have any. Eventually, they get the message. It's also quite effective to walk out and go somewhere else. Starbucks has to take a lot of credit for the remarkable change - when I first came to Japan, non-smoking sections were rare, small, and ineffective (three seats just beside the smoking section - what is the point). Still more to be done though.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Readers, references to other countries are not relevant to this discussion.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I may have to start going to Starbucks then! Let's be honest here: there is no such thing as a "no-smoking" section of a room - it is like being "half-pregnant". I stopped going to Doutor because I'd leave the "no-smoking section" smelling like I'd just rolled around on 100 ashtrays...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Not sure how this works but it may go something like this:

Q. Do you smoke? A. (Respondent thinks to self - if I say "yes" this total stranger will look down on me.) No.

I don't trust any of these polls because the logical thing for many in Japan is to actually care more what the survey taker thinks than what the truth is.

I would say closer to 50% of men in Japan smoke and close to 30% of the women. Like others have said above, a lot depends on environment, e.g, people drink and smoke, have coffee and smoke, or play pachinko and smoke. Remove the alcohol, coffee, or pachinko from the equation and the individual is basically a non-smoker. All-around interesting psychology, IMO.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Nonsense to the second hand smoke conspirators...read the facts

http://www.davehitt.com/facts/index.html

http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/90/19/1440.full.pdf

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Although I'm skeptical about the accuracy of this finding, it's nice to read some good news for a change.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yo, LoudLight. That's not the real point.

Saying it would save the life of smokers didn't work so we turned it around and said it's about saving our lives. But all that is just window-dressing that's thrown out to bolster the case for getting the rude jerks, er, I mean drug addicts, to stop blowing their stinky effluent on those of us who are not drug addicts.

Smokers are, like all unreformed drug addicts, in denial. Frankly, we don't really mind if they die from cancer. We just want to be able to smell the roses and taste our dinner.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

If only less than 20% smoke, why are 99% of the coffee houses, izakaya, and restaurants STILL smoking polluted? HuH? WHY WHY WHY? Please, Japan, go 100% nonsmoking. Show some danged spine to the Japan Tobacco and govern't Death Pact. I mean, really! If people live longer and are more healthy, this will help a lot with the "graying" population. If NonSmoking became the law of the land TOMORROW, I would be so very happy! As would the staff working in all those smoky places, and etc etc etc.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I saw this on the news last night. I do not believe the numbers for women. You can walk into most Izakaya and other restaurants and a lot more women are lighting up then what they suggest here. I think the polls are flawed and people lie.

Your thinking is flawed because that's an unscientific "visual poll" you're conducting. Of COURSE the numbers of smokers are going to be higher in establishments that allow smoking. It attracts a higher percentage of smokers and that, in turn, drives away more non-smokers. Your "visual poll" would be like me conducting a poll of spectators in a stadium during a soccer match and asking "Do you like soccer?" Any results would be heavily skewed.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

A ministry spokesperson suggested that the cigarette price hike last year may have led to an increase in people quitting smoking, or considering it.

When a Pregovian tax actually decreases consumption of the targeted demerit good, you know the economy is in really really bad shape.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This sounds perfectly to me. I hope in the near future to not see smokers. To smoke cigarette is bad to you and specially for those around you.

What "ORIGINALUSERNAME" said in the first post of on the top of this page match exactly with my thoughts. I lost the count of times I ve seen parents bringing their toddlers to the smoking area in the shops, or the hole family in the smoking area in the restaurants. Please Japanese Government, let s clean Japan.

I am sure that so many people avoid going out to izakayas and pubs just because they ll need to be "smoked".

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Glad to see the number of somkers has been decreasing ! As a former smoker, I can tell you that it's not easy to quit smoking cigarettes, I tried it like 5 times before I finally succeeded last year.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Smokers only need to succeed once to 'Enjoy stop smoking'.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Bar owners in the UK balked at the non-smoking rule coming in years ago fearing they would lose customer. Actually business went up because non-smokers went out more.

I had a showdown battle at the Chinese place a few weeks ago. Went in and the place reeked of smoke. So I opened the window and quickly got told off for doing so - they other customers would get cold! I said the place stinks and is smokey. "There is no non-smoking section" I was told. " Fine. I will leave the window open and won't bother ever coming back here after tonight." (We were waiting for friends so were kind of stuck there). Why places can't understand that non-smokers don't want to be sitting in a haze of blue is beyond me. I couldn't believe they jumped on me for opening a window while looking the other way on the chain smokers.

I don't bother with smokey places anymore. If at a bar and the person lights up next to me, i move and make it very clear it is because of the smoke. Does that make me a cow? Perhaps but why should I have to sit next to someone who smokes and doesn't care about my health or the health of those around them.

Nothing makes me angrier than seeing mom and dad sucking them back in a car with their kids.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Actually making a huff does change it - hence why so many places are creating non-smoking areas of banning smoking...

Go back to your country... like I said, what do the locals do who agree with banning smoking?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

um go to non-smoking restaurants and bars? Still never understand why the non-smoking party is 100% or nothing. Why does EVERY single place have to be non-smoking. Some people smoke, they should have places to be able to go to. Dont like it? Dont go. Patronize your non-smoking establishments.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

There are few of them but increasing daily - because smart business owners are seeing there is money to be made by catering to non-smokers. I am not 100% or nothing. If they have sections that actually work, by all means smoke away. Why are you so hostile about this? You guys rule here with being allowed to smoke pretty much everywhere. I am just asking for a non-smoking section and for it to be that - non-smoking.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Fantastic, hope it keeps going down.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Hey Genji17. EVERY single place SHOULD be nonsmoking because human beings staff those places. YOU are giving THEM lung cancer. Go smoke in your dismal room yourself and kill yourself but not helpless others in public places. Everyone has to breath.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Ever kissed a smoker? Don't bother people - I dated a cute girl once who smoked and had to dump her. Made up some other excuse. Even though she was pretty, kissing her was like licking an ashtray and a big turn-off.

And yeah - Genji - Japan needs to catch up with the likes of Australia and UK. Kids should not have to smoke whilst travelling in cars - or in restaurants. Bans and fines are the way to go because smokers will place their addiction above their own kids - make no mistake about that.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@loudlight: you shared two articles. The first article seemed to downplay statistics and studies as irrelevant. (I didn't read it thoroughly as it was very badly written and incoherent in many places) and the second was a study on ETS. It seems that they contradict each other. In any case, tobacco smoke is not some chemical that will instantly destroy a person's lungs but has been proven to destroy the body over time. It takes years of exposure to do any serious irreparable damage and people who quit will notice a vast improvement in their health. All of that may be interesting or not, but the real point is that smoke is noxious, smelly, disgusting and very annoying to people who do not smoke. Even people have noted that it can be smelly.

The human body is incredibly elastic and strong and is able to resist a few doses but you have to be in serious denial to ignore common sense that second hand smoke is harmless.

I grew up in an environment of 2nd hand smoke and believe me, I escaped whenever I could. Driving in a car during my childhood was horrible when it came to smoking. I remember living in Alberta with temperatures of -20 and lower, yet I would opt to open a car window and face the wrath of my parents than continue to breath in the smoke.

Now, you can point to me and say "you don't have cancer, so second hand smoke has done you no harm", but the truth is that no one will ever know what harm it has done. It's impossible to measure the physical damage it has done, but I can assure you that the psychological damage is there.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hey Ranger and Burakimin, want Japan to be like Australia? Better idea, move yourself there. Business owers should have a right to decide how to run their business like they do here. DONT LIKE SMOKING PLACES THEN DONT GO TO THEM. Not sure why this is so hard for you to understand. If you think that non-smoking matters that much, dont patronize smoking places. Eventually theyll feel the hurt of all the lost customers (if youre right) and swtich their place to non-smoking. If youre wrong they wont. If a place wants to be 100% non-smoking im all for it, if it doesnt im fine with that too, if they wanna segregate it im fine with that too, if they wanna have a closet or room for a smoker to get their fix im fine with that too. You anti smoking fanatical freaks would get a lot further if you were willing to compromise instead of all or nothing. Like the smoking areas inside Narita airport...tell me they bother a non-smoker and ill tell you are are full of it. We smokers are more than willing to compromise, youre not.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Again, why are you so hostile about this? You rule the country with being allowed to smoke where ever you want. Why can't you learn to share and support a non-smoking section.

Again, what are the locals suppose to do who are "home"? Perhaps you should move to the Czech republic where it is allowed anywhere?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

You anti smoking fanatical freaks would get a lot further if you were willing to compromise instead of all or nothing. Like the smoking areas inside Narita airport...tell me they bother a non-smoker and ill tell you are are full of it. We smokers are more than willing to compromise, youre not.

I have no problem with those areas - or indeed the sealed Smoking booths on JR platforms. JR have done the right thing and banned smoking on trains since I came here - AMEN to that. C'mon Genji - it is only a matter of time before smoking in bars, restaurants and cafe's goes the way of the dinosaur like in Aus and the UK. Thankfully then kids everywhere will be happier, healthier and breathe much easier.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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