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Japan's smoking rate drops to record low

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Smoking, like any other drug addiction causes the addicts to enable eachother; the fact that cigarettes are currently legal, make this enabling very easy and wide-spread; taking a step back, think how insane it is to be able to acceptably say 'I need to go for a break to smoke drugs' whilst at work, which is what taking a cigarette break purely is.

Asian cultures smoke a lot more than Western, because they are comparatively less modern. Again, simple as that. As they modernise, you will see a reduction in smokers, but it will take several generations for smoking to become a minority activity in Asia, including Japan. I am from England, which I am proud to say has taken steps to begin the eradication of tobacco smoking, and the associated addiction, anti-social behaviour and disease. It will be a long time until Japan follows this, but it will come, eventually. Maybe.

Anyone downvoting this, is an addict, pure and simple and will feel attacked by my comments, which they will see as criticism for their problem. I understand this, as addictions are hard to beat, but you need to do it, if you wish to modernise yourself.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Compared with car emissions, smoke from cigarettes is nothing.

When I see smokers wrapping their lips around a tail pipe I will take this statement for something more than pure nonsense.

Cars generally are not run indoors but smokers think then can poison others indoors like it is a god given right. In the end the smokers are just pathetic addicts, like any junkie you find on skid row.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The data could be obtained from Annual Sales Report of Japan Tobacco Inc.,- ( Nihon Tabako Sangyo Kabushiki-gaisha ), but I don't know/

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I don't know how accurate he stats are but I do know for a fact that the number of smokers is on a decline and that's good news. I think they should jack-up the price a few hundred yen more. That should pretty much do the trick.

This article is contrary to what I have been seeing here in Okinawa. More female smokers to compensate the drop in the number of male counterpart. I agree that jacking up the price would do the trick.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

In short, I would not be surprised that within a few years the ONLY restaurant in Japan where you can smoke will be an izakaya. Everywhere else, smoking will be strictly banned. After all, you can't smoke on any passenger train in Japan (except for those special tiny smoking rooms on the 700 and N700 Series Shinkansen--and even those may disappear very soon).

Given that everyone knows smoking has lots of bad health effects, these strict bans may just happen.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I wish the yakitori restaurant in my neighborhood would stop letting customers smoke - I'd like to try their yakitori.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

This stats may be good news. But I think that this witch hunt is focused on the wrong legal drug. The world will really be better when this nazi-jew like persecution turns over all the alcoholic bevarages. Alcohol, really filthy and more effective manace for everyone.

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

Tobacco-related laws I would like to see passed here in Japan:

1) Stricter ID requirements for tobacco purchases from stores and vending machines; forms of identification and proof of age more official and harder to fake than TASPO cards should be required AND ENFORCED.

2) Make it illegal to smoke in the presence of a minor no matter where you are but particularly in a small/confined space, so jackass smoker parents won't be able to take their children into the smoking section of any establishment or smoke while driving with their children in the car.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Raising the price would do less to decrease smoking than you might think, and the money smokers have to spend on this tax would be money they don't spend on things like food, clothes, or feeding their children.

Do smokers deserve more sympathy than gamblers? Both are addicts. I happen to agree that increased tobacco taxes are regressive at this point. People feel good about it, but addicts are addicts. If they have kids, then the kids suffer even more with an increased tax.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I smell cigarette smoke here more often and in more places than I did in the US. Sometimes after work we go out for drinks but izakaya are always so bad and coworkers light up in the closed space so I have to wash my hair and clothes as soon as I get home. After a couple experiences like that I say no to going out. Japanese people are usually so careful not to cause "meiwaku" to others, it would be nice if that thinking could extend to smoking.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

So 80% of the population has to put up with the 20% smoking rate (not that I actually believe those figures but anyway...). If that is the case, how about making 80% of bars, cafe... non-smoking? And 1000 yen for a pack is still too cheap when you consider the health care costs that are attributed to smokers. Plus, 1000 yen is cheaper than what it costs for an average pack in Canada and the UK these days. Of course, the smoking oyagi who make the laws in this country would never do it though.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

When I go to the station, I see many Japanese people smoking in the corals. I do not see a drop in numbers inside of the smoking corals at all. As a matter of fact, it seems that they are increasing in numbers.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Less than 20% of Japan are Nicotine monkeys?! Please.

Last time I checked in most 1st world countries there was NO right to smoke but there is a right to clean air. Every Nicotine addict out there (just like your crack druggies) will try and somehow justify that their pathetic addiction gives them the 'right' to smoke and that we should stop bothering them because cars pollute even more. Well to those Nicotine monkeys out there, when was the last time some car sat idling on a balcony 20 floors up right below your open windows so that you had to keep them all close pretty much all year. Go smoke in an airtight room and shut the hell up.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

and yet they live longer than in the West............. LALL I say.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Bet you more people are smoking marijuana than there used to be.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Shrimpton, go take your cancer sticks elsewhere. We like our air as it is.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Adam Shrimpton

So non-smokers, you can have your non-smoking areas in bars and restaurants, but don't go all anti-smoking-nazi on me and stop me from lighting up when there is no other alternative place to go.

You seem to have things backwards. The norm is to be smoke-free. Establishments are by nature smoke-free and if there is to be any smoking allowed, it should be in a designated smoking area, not the other way around.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Still too many smoking places around Tokyo. More often than not, the "non-smoking" area is only separated by a single partition, resulting in smoke wafting throughout the entire restaurant. It should be banned in all indoor areas.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

This sounds to me like a massaging of figures by someone to make it sound as if the tax hike is paying off in terms of public health.

I really haven't seen all that much difference between the number of people smoking 20 years ago when I first came to Japan and now that is, if you're specifically talking about Japanese people. What I have noticed though is that the number of foreigners who smoke has gone down considerably and those that get extremely irritated when you light up in front of them at the bar has gone up considerably (my view on that is, if you don't like smoking, don't go to a bar in Japan, go to the konbini, buy some cans and drink with your puritan friends at home - hey, you'll even save money!).

Sure, there are more no-smoking areas in restaurants and places, but that's fair enough, if people don't want their kids to sit in a smokey atmosphere, that's totally understandable, but then please don't then go and walk them back down the road in any major city in rush hour. They'll be breathing in more carcinogens in one hour than they would in a room full of smokers.

As other people here have noted, the figures really only seem to show the number of people who say they smoke. Sales figures from Japan Tobacco show completely the opposite (sales figures have not dropped, I've checked them myself). Nothing has changed really. So, whilst I'm all for non-smoking areas in bars, restaurants and other publicly-open establishments, it's only really so I don't have to sit and endure the tuts of people who don't want me smoking in front of them - it's my choice whether I smoke or not, I understand the health risks, but it's something I enjoy and have done for over 20 years. In Japan, it's not like I can go and smoke elsewhere; Japan's the only country I'm aware of that bans smoking on the streets (other countries ban littering, but not specifically smoking), so whilst I can go to a bar in the UK or Thailand or Taiwan and walk outside to smoke, which isn't that inconvenient and I don't mind, I can't in Japan especially when the nearest 'designated' smoking area may be a 10 minute walk away or more. I'm pretty sure bars and restaurants would prefer to have smoking inside, rather than run the risk of having (inebriated) customers walking 10 mins or more away to smoke, meaning they are gone for 20 minutes or more, meaning lost revenue and the potential for (inebriated) customers to 'forget' they have a tab and walk off elsewhere.

So non-smokers, you can have your non-smoking areas in bars and restaurants, but don't go all anti-smoking-nazi on me and stop me from lighting up when there is no other alternative place to go. I'm happy walking around for miles outside and not smoking in the street. You have the option of taking your business to a non-smoking bar or cafe and many bars / restaurants do what they can to limit the smoke drifting in your direction (air walls and more).

-9 ( +4 / -13 )

This is great news! As a former smoker, I can't stand the smell anymore.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Must do my bit to help reverse these stats

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

I went to meet someone at a family restaurant in my neighborhood and there was not one smoker there in over two hours. I suppose because many kids were there in family groups. It would appear parents are getting the picture. On the other hand, at yakitoriya and Izakaya, a different sort will smoke up the place. Until the no smoking ban ever takes place, we'll have to choose our options.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I like the no smoking on sidewalks but don't like how they have a designated smoking area right outside of the train station where I have to walk by to get anywhere...

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Its encouraging to see and I think it is believable. Cigarettes are still cheap here compared to North America, but the taxes on them went up considerably a few years back so in the minds of Japanese smokers they are a much more expensive habit than they used to be (I agree though, the taxes should be raised much higher on them).

The restaurant thing is one of my major pet peeves about living in Japan. There are a lot of restaurants which I would like to eat at but mostly avoid due to them either having no smoking area or a completely ineffective one. They really should be completely banned from all restaurants.

Some of the policies here are actually ridiculous. I have seen a lot of cities launch no smoking on the sidewalks campaigns while at the same time completely ignoring the much more obnoxious and threatening to health problem of smoking in restaurants. Their priorities are completely out of whack.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

People really do smoke a lot less than 15 years ago, but many smokers are still very obnoxious. And on the other hand people are a lot fatter than 15 years ago as well so I guess you win some and then lose some.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

less than 20%? really? because when I walk to work at least 5 out of 10 people walking or standing on the street are .....yes.......smoking.

Anyway a downward trend is how I like it, raise the prices, make more places smoke free and I will be happy :)

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

This is good news. I'm a smoker but I think it's a bad habit. I wouldn't mind the government raising prices on cigs to about 1,000 yen a pack, as long as they liberalise the e-cig industry more.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I think a huge factor that showed non-smoking places to consume food can be successful was the rollout of Starbucks in Japan.

So right! I'm not really a fan of their coffee, but I feel enormously grateful to them for almost single-handedly introducing the whole "non-smoking" concept to Japan (and grateful to the Japanese customers who voted with their wallets). It was a really radical move at the time, now it's becoming commonplace. Thanks, Staba!

5 ( +10 / -5 )

Nonsense. What you're seeing here is that people are merely reluctant to SAY they're smoking.

Domestic cigarette sales for Japan for 2014 are 55.1 billion cigarettes (Jan to July). Double that and you get 110 billion cigarettes sold.

2013 was 120 billion cigarettes, 2012 was 116.2 billion cigarettes, 2011 was 108 billion cigarettes. (Source: https://www.jt.com/investors/results/S_information/domestic_cigarette/index.html).

The conclusion is clear, there has been little or no change in the total number of cigarettes being smoked in Japan over the last 4 years.

Price increases, warning labels, banning it from restaurants, etc... none of this is having any effect other than to make people lie about whether they smoke.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Well, Japan is totally alright with drinking. But for all their neon lights and izakaya and hanami, their is a decided "anti-fun" streak running deep through Japanese society and culture.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

The land of "don't" strikes again. I hate cigarette smoke, but it just seems that if Japanese enjoy anything, it either gets banned or made to be too much trouble.

Japan. Don't drink. Don't smoke. Don't dance. Don't smoke pot. Don't have sex. Don't have a real vacation. A good slogan for J-land would be "Arbeit macht frei."

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

Wake up! Society is becoming increasingly intolerant of smokers.Those who can't hack it may rest assured in the knowledge that they can always smoke in their own home and car, regardless of what it's doing to their children (whose rights they simply squash) - they will probably appreciate the delightful smell of smoky hair and clothes, and will thank you later in their life for setting such a great example and introducing them to their parents' disgusting habit.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

There are obviously other options including supporting regulations against smoking in public places (a la Bangkok - which is still in Asia!) and, for the libertarians, avoiding restaurants that allow smoking in order to form a critical mass encouraging more smoke-free environments (ricky doesn't seem aware that there are one or two restaurants in Japan in which smoking is not allowed). More regulations are probably coming though, especially with the olympics on the way.

One or two?? Pfft

http://r.gnavi.co.jp/character/kods00069/rs/

3 ( +5 / -2 )

raise the price of cigs to ¥850 a pack that would help a lot.

Raising the price would do less to decrease smoking than you might think, and the money smokers have to spend on this tax would be money they don't spend on things like food, clothes, or feeding their children. This decrease in spending affects other parts of the econony, and contributes further to the already-too-heavy weight of taxation, and it's drag on economic activity.

Many states in America have simply banned smoking in all public places, and permit smoking in designated areas only, usually outdoors. Smoking is not permitted in any workplace. Some cities and counties have gone so far as to ban smoking while driving to reduce wildfires (smokers have an annoying tendency to throw cigarette butts out their windows when driving), and to reduce distractions. Similar bans in Japan would do more good.

JT used to be a government entity, and the gvernment still has an economic interest in the company. It's not likely they will do much to curb smoking.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

@rickyvee "if you don't like the smoke in restaurants, then you have two options: don't go to restaurants or get the heck out of asia."

There are obviously other options including supporting regulations against smoking in public places (a la Bangkok - which is still in Asia!) and, for the libertarians, avoiding restaurants that allow smoking in order to form a critical mass encouraging more smoke-free environments (ricky doesn't seem aware that there are one or two restaurants in Japan in which smoking is not allowed). More regulations are probably coming though, especially with the olympics on the way.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

japan is def becoming more smoke-free. i still remember when my boss used to light up in the office, when shinkansens had smoking cars and when walking and smoking was acceptable.

but as a former smoker, i have no problems with people smoking in restaurants. if you don't like the smoke in restaurants, then you have two options: don't go to restaurants or get the heck out of asia.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

according to the study published Wednesday, which is conducted by cigarette monopoly Japan Tobacco.

a bit suspicious. obviously JT would want to make it look like the taxes are working, so they don't get any bigger. how about a survey from a neutral source?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@Schopenhauer

Nice straw man.

About the market place deciding this. What the 75%+ of people who don't smoke in Japan need to do is the following. Every time you enter a restaurant that has smoke everywhere, tell the staff that it is too smoky and leave. Definitely, let them know that they have lost your business for the day (all the better for large groups). Most people don't do this. Actually, a number of smokers (not all, but a many) don't mind that much if they have to go 60-90min. without smoking. Most non-smokers in Japan just assume that they have to endure smoke, because they think, "that's how it is."

3 ( +8 / -5 )

I don't know how accurate he stats are but I do know for a fact that the number of smokers is on a decline and that's good news. I think they should jack-up the price a few hundred yen more. That should pretty much do the trick.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Smokers are protested when they smoke on streets while they are not very much worried about emissions from cars. Compared with car emissions, smoke from cigarettes is nothing.

Maybe they are worried about the emissions from cars, but they probably do not say anything because they drive or benefit from cars themselves. You have pointed out something very true - the exhaust from cars is deadly, but we walk next to them without a care in the world. But spot a smoker a hundred yards away, we suffer a coughing fit caused by outraged indignation.

Back in 1966 almost half of Japanese were smoking?? Thank god I was not here!!

Back in 1966 half of everyone was smoking - probably more in some countries.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I think a huge factor that showed non-smoking places to consume food can be successful was the rollout of Starbucks in Japan. Since Starbucks stores did not allow smoking, the place became a surprising success, especially among younger patrons. So much so that I can see coffee shops like Doutour and Ko Hi Kan go completely smoke-free within a few years just to keep Starbucks at bay.

In short, Starbucks may have contributed to the Japanese demanding more smoke-free eating establishments and in a way lowering the smoking rate among adults.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Yeah, I also find this very hard to believe!

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

You go to your average family restaurant and they have a smoking and a NON-smoking section, but NOT closed off as if the smoke will just stay in the smoking area and not travel to the NON-smoking section

I recently sat in a non-smoking section in a fami-resu with my family but it was close to the smoking section. However, I didn't smell any smoke. I noticed a sign explaining that there is an "air wall," meaning the smoke is blocked from traveling due to an invisible barrier created by an air stream. It works really well. Anyway, this is a positive trend (I'm an ex-smoker) and I'm all for it.

17 ( +18 / -1 )

Yeah right!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I am happy with this trend. When I first came to Japan 24 years ago, any public space,restaurant, bar, train, etc. was downright awful to be in. It is wonderfully different now.

I agree, I think that Japan has come a long way in this respect. Smoking is now regarded as anti-social, people are getting feisty and demanding clean air. It's great.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Smoking should be banned from all public places, bars, cafés, restaurants. Employee's should not be made to suffer second hand tobacco smoke. A packet should cost ¥1,000.

7 ( +15 / -8 )

In Japan lifetime, current, and daily smoking rate increases with age so this is happy and good new to hear about the declining percentage of the smoking population. Smoking is a health hazard and does nothing but destroy your body. It's also a hazard to bystanders and a burden to the health system.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Smokers are protested when they smoke on streets while they are not very much worried about emissions from cars. Compared with car emissions, smoke from cigarettes is nothing.

-8 ( +10 / -18 )

Then why does the government still continue to allow smoking in restaurants and bars? Fear of declining tax revenue? Surely, if the majority of adults do not smoke then the shrinking minority who do should not be allowed to affect our dining and drinking pleasure. The non-smoking areas in many places are a joke with little or no discernible separation between the areas. Time for a complete ban to come into effect before the 2020 Olympics.

Ministry of Finance likes the Tobacco industry because of the tax revenues. MHLW does not. Any establishment can choose to ban smoking, allow smoking, or section off between the non and the smokers. It's strictly up to the private operators to do so. Don't know why the government has to get involved in it.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

Then why does the government still continue to allow smoking in restaurants and bars? Fear of declining tax revenue? Surely, if the majority of adults do not smoke then the shrinking minority who do should not be allowed to affect our dining and drinking pleasure. The non-smoking areas in many places are a joke with little or no discernible separation between the areas. Time for a complete ban to come into effect before the 2020 Olympics.

You go to your average family restaurant and they have a smoking and a NON-smoking section, but NOT closed off as if the smoke will just stay in the smoking area and not travel to the NON-smoking section, who brainstormed that. I have kids and I will never take them and or I will leave ANY establishment that allows smoking, period! It's a start, but Japan needs to do a lot more, get more serious and one thing would be to raise the price of cigs to ¥850 a pack that would help a lot.

1 ( +9 / -8 )

This is good news if true. Just imagine the billions of yen that can be saved in medical costs due to smoking related diseases.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Its time to join the large majority of the rest of the developed world and start restricting this disgusting poison carcinogen in public in a meaningful way.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

Then why does the government still continue to allow smoking in restaurants and bars? Fear of declining tax revenue? Surely, if the majority of adults do not smoke then the shrinking minority who do should not be allowed to affect our dining and drinking pleasure. The non-smoking areas in many places are a joke with little or no discernible separation between the areas. Time for a complete ban to come into effect before the 2020 Olympics.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

I am happy with this trend. When I first came to Japan 24 years ago, any public space,restaurant, bar, train, etc. was downright awful to be in. It is wonderfully different now.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

Back in 1966 almost half of Japanese were smoking?? Thank god I was not here!! Filthy, disgusting addiction and it still makes me sick to my stomach!! The first time I ever saw Japanese was in Hawaii and I made a mistake to take a peek into a cafe full of Japanese and the air in that restaurant was FILTHY!! From the knees up the air was WHITE from the smoke! I was thinking, gosh these idiots come all the way to Hawaii to lock themselves up in a cafe with only Japanese and to smoke 24/7?? Let me guess, these same smokers go back to Tokyo and BRAG about their vacation in Hawaii where they LOCKED THEMSELVES up in a cafe full of Japanese smokers?? I think all of the worlds tobacco companies are EVIL!!

-1 ( +12 / -13 )

I think you are right, I don't see it anywhere, I call foul on that report as well. Cigs are cheap as hell in Japan, the government supports the tobacco industry and everywhere I go, when I watch some TV show or film in Japan, I always see people smoking, in fact, I saw a pregnant woman at a local cafe smoking outside, disgusting! Japanese still think, smoking is cool and a necessity. Example, in EVERY shopping mall, smoking in any restaurant should be banned, period! Even having a separate smoking section is NOT good enough, smoking should be banned from every establishment where people and especially children congregate.

0 ( +12 / -13 )

I call BS. Never trust government stats, especially if they are being used to justify taxes.

-1 ( +15 / -15 )

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