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Japan is still way behind in terms of anti-smoking policies, especially measures against secondhand smoke. You can still smoke in a lot of public places in Japan such as office buildings, coffee shops

54 Comments

Hiroshi Yamato, a doctor at the University of Occupational and Environmental Health in Kitakyushu (AFP)

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54 Comments
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Filthy habit. I can't think of a similar habit which so encroaches on other people.

13 ( +15 / -3 )

There's no point to banning public smoking, or having anti-smoking policies, if there is no enforcement or consequences.

9 ( +10 / -2 )

@strangerland

If people want to smoke, they should be allowed to smoke. I have no problem with limiting the places they can smoke outdoors. But I see no reason why they should be punished with huge taxes on packs of cigarettes.

They are not being 'punished', they cost the non-smoking tax payers billions in health care costs - it's the non-smokers who are being punished by smoker's filthy habit.

8 ( +12 / -5 )

It is so dirty and disgusting! Always a disappointment when you come back to Tokyo from cleaner places like Manila or Seoul.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

Japan is actually pretty far ahead of what it used to be in terms of smoking in public -- on paper, anyway. You can still smoke in a non-smoking area with absolutely no repercussions, and with police not doing a thing. Just look at some of the photos of the day posted on JT in the past as examples: people gathered around non-smoking signs taking a smoke break.

Raise the price of a pack of cigarettes to 1500 yen per pack. You'll see people start cutting down and quitting instantly. Then, put a fine of 500,000 yen on anyone caught smoking in a non-smoking area (and ENFORCE it!), followed by expanding non-smoking areas, starting with ALL restaurants and bars. Sure, people will gripe about it at first, but as has been seen in other advanced nations that have taken these steps, it is a change for the better and doesn't hurt business much (save the tobacco industry, maybe). This nation is an embarrassment at present with it's ration of lip-service laws to actual laws.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

I'm not talking about smoking in public, i am talking about people smoking in private or in their own homes.

The quote we're supposed to be commenting on refers specifically to smoking in public, and second-hand smoke.

My parents and elder brother smoked in the privacy of their own homes, and in so doing they deprived my kids of two loving grandparents and a doting uncle.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Where is the news here? Anyone who has spent more tha 24 hours in Japan is well aware of this.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

As for Seoul . . . being cleaner than Tokyo, that is just utter nonsense.

Especially when Korean men smoke more than Japanese men.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Smokers cost less than non-smokers, because they die younger and don't incur the same end--of-life health costs that non-smokers incur.

I really hate this line or argument. Overweight people? Ban eating too much, after all, they cost the healthcare system money.

If smoking affected only smokers, you might have a point. If I sit next to a person who is overeating, a person who needs more exercise, a person enjoying a whisky, a person who goes bungee-jumping every weekend, they might have their own self-inflicted health problems that I am expected to help pay for, but they don't sent me off to the hospital wheezing and unable to catch my breath, costing me not only in medical fees but also in lost working time - which is what happens if I sit next to (or even in the same room as) a smoker.

Smoking is a filthy, nasty selfish habit that benefits no one except the ghouls of the tobacco industry, and tears apart families. In the past people knew no better, but anyone who started smoking in the past 30 years or so is an out-and-out fool.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

If apples are going to cost ¥110 or more each in this country, I have no problem with cigarettes being at least ¥800 yen/pack.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

In fact Japan is way behind on anti-smoking policies that make sense. But I trust it comes with what where they thinking at that moment, which I cannot fathom what it was.

It is common sense that a "public space" is a place where there is interaction between many people and everything you do affects others, hence, a smoking habit DOES affect others and not just you, especially if there are some places where children go for example a restaurant, a park, a beach, etc.

Even though I'm a smoker, I support policies like increasing taxes or banning spaces for smoking, like restaurants, or office buildings, in my country, nobody is allowed to smoke inside a office building, so many of them mark a square outside with an ashtray for smokers to go on a break, restaurants are banned even those who have tables outside on the open air. The premise? the only place that you can smoke on open air is where there are no possibilities that a child will be close.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

In some wards of Tokyo smoking on the street is banned but people can, incredibly, smoke in restaurants and hair salons. What gives? One day I went in to a hair salon for the first time for a haircut and while I was waiting, another waiting customer lit up a cigarette. It was only then I noticed the ashtray stand. Cripes! I immediately walked out, and I had to go to another place where smoking is not allowed.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

There is definitely improvement since say 1990, when cigarette ash cans on train platforms were regularly smoldering with toxic fumes of burning dirty cigarette filters. And there is still a ways to go.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

// I can't think of a similar habit which so encroaches on other people.

But...even as a smoker, I find it strange I could just light up inside a building with no obvious barriers, and Chiyoda-ku is just weird. I can smoke inside a building, but not outside...

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Make tobacco burning cigs illegal and replace them with nothing but e-cigs. Second hand smoke from one smoker stinks everything up. It gets in one's clothes, hair and other stuff just being around a smoker for 3mins.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

A fat person does not affect me. Smokers do. Wish SIGNS were on doors warning me before I walk in if the place is smoker friendly or human lungs friendly. Smoke is full of dangerous chemicals, as everyone knows.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

The U.S. used to be just Japan, everyone smoked and it's even in the Norman Rockwell paintings. Because no one knew the real damage it causes. Now it's so uncool to smoke in the U.S., almost taboo even. Japan could really reduce public smoking with enforcement of policies and help from the health industry to promote education on what second-hand smoke does to the lungs of family members.

But I've become aware, just like alcohol consumption is a part of Japanese business, some young people start smoking once they join a company so as to join sempai on smoke breaks. The problem is it's more addictive than alcohol and you can't just be a "social smoker".

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I have to say this is one thing I dislike when I visit Japan. Every café, bar and restaurant reeks of cigarette smoke. The smoking ban in the UK was controversial but has been so good for non-smokers, no longer do I leave places stinking of smoke.

Just ban it everywhere in public other than designated smoking rooms/ areas outdoors. Those smoking rooms you see in malls and airports are the best solution, let them stew in their own concentrated filth.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

cleaner places like Manila

HAH

2 ( +7 / -5 )

When you see Diet members talking in smoke-filled rooms and with Wikipedia stating many have "interests" in the tobacco industry, stricter legislation, such as a complete ban in public places, may be a pipe dream. ( no pun intended)

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Some might say Japan is way ahead in allowing people relative freedom to smoke. As for Seoul or Manila being cleaner than Tokyo, that is just utter nonsense.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

One of the problems in Japan is that in some areas such as Chiyoda-ku somking in the street is banned. The result of this is that smokers puff away in restaurants and coffee shops and other enclosed areas.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There is definitely improvement since say 1990, when cigarette ash cans on train platforms were regularly smoldering with toxic fumes of burning dirty cigarette filters.

I think you mean 2009. Smoking was allowed on JR platforms until then.

It still is when you get out into the boonies.

Yachimata station on the Sobu honsen in Chiba-ken, for example. No-smoking time covers only the morning rush hour. The rest of the day, smokers can light up at both ends of the platforms. Yes, it's outdoors, but it still stinks.

Oh well, at least there's no smoking IN the trains now. This is progress!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

what they should do is come up with a law that for privately owned establishments, the owner must choose to be either all smoking or all non-smoking, put up a sign indicating which and then its up to everyone whether you want to work at or patronize that establishment.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

They are not being 'punished', they cost the non-smoking tax payers billions in health care costs - it's the non-smokers who are being punished by smoker's filthy habit.

I really hate this line or argument. Overweight people? Ban eating too much, after all, they cost the healthcare system money.

People who don't exercise enough? Ditto. Drinkers? Yup. People who engage in dangerous sports? Them too.

I usually hate slippery slope arguments but this is a really, really slippery slope. This is not the US - in Japan we ALL have the right to healthcare access. We should be encouraging people to live healthy lifestyles and take care of themselves but this concept of people's poor health being a detriment to others for financial reasons is just mean.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

One reason to blame is the media itself and ignorant moderators on this website who cant' handle the truth being posted about Japan. So as long as it continues whats the point. But there are many ways to get the truth out even if one is not in Japan. Next time moderator have a better explanation if your company media and chief can't handle the truth

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Even on the street, for example Chiyoda ward (which is supposed to have a no street smoking policy) I see people breaking the rule all the time within sight of the koban. There are signs up for a 2000 yen fine for violators - yet I see no-one enforcing. That's half the problem to begin with - lack of enforcement

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Serrano san, I hope you told the hair cutting place why you were leaving, never to return. What an obnoxious, obtuse policy!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

That was implicit in my original comment, which your reply seems to have ignored by talking about how smoke affected you. It affects a lot of people.

If your original comment was implicitly referring to smoking in public and how it affects other people, then your subsequent comment, that you were 'not talking about smoking in public' makes no sense.

If you want to poison your body in the privacy of your own home, then go ahead (but spare a thought for fellow inmates, especially children). If you smoke in public, then it affects others, including me, and asking you to stop and/or pay the consequences is not 'mean'. The fact that second-hand smoke hasn't killed me yet doesn't mean that there's no problem with second-hand smoke.

If you want people to take the context in which you write into consideration, you need to put it into words. We can't see inside your head (specially if it's all smokey...)

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Cleo

If you want to poison your body in the privacy of your own home, then go ahead (but spare a thought for fellow inmates, especially children).

Yup.

If you smoke in public, then it affects others, including me, and asking you to stop and/or pay the consequences is not 'mean'.

I agree 100%. People should not be subject to second hand smoke.

I agreed with this when I wrote my original comment, which was in response to someone saying smoking should be banned (not PUBLIC smoking - smoking) because it costs taxpayers money. That is wrong. And you apparently agree with me, so why are you arguing about this?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I agreed with this when I wrote my original comment, which was in response to someone saying smoking should be banned

No one said smoking per se should be banned. smithinjapan suggested that raising the price of cigarettes would encourage people to cut down/quit; that's not the same as banning. You were the one who first mentioned 'banning' other sins such as overeating, drinking and lack of exercise.

You are right that we need not argue about the banning of smoking in public - I could not be more in favour. I would go further though and prosecute the tobacco industry for peddling toxic substances that destroy lives. That should be illegal.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

they cost the non-smoking tax payers billions in health care costs - it's the non-smokers who are being punished by smoker's filthy habit.

Which is making an economic argument for banning smoking. He/she doesn't specifically say all smoking but it's pretty well explicit, I think.

The context being a suggestion that cigarettes be taxed much more heavily. That's discouragement, not banning. It's an economic argument for getting smokers to pay more for the economic effects of their addiction.

the person is not subjecting others unwillingly to the direct consequences of their consumption

Smokers with families and loved ones do subject others unwillingly to the direct consequences of their addiction, when they die far too early. It's very, very selfish.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The only economic argument offered so far is that smokers cost more in health care, but actually that has been shown to be incorrect, as smokers die earlier, and end up costing less to the health care system (same with fat people). So what economic effects are you referring to?

As I work in healthcare, this statement is completely false. You have no idea how many health problems arise from smoking that I've have to assist with every day at work. Heart disease, high blood pressure, lung disease, and top it off with the many varieties of cancer people get. All of those cost in medication and healthcare expenses and for those that do live a long time (because they have quit smoking which automatically extended their life expectancy) still have to deal with the payback for their years of smoking.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If by 'young people' you mean minors, then yes, I fully agree with keeping cigarettes out of their hands. But anyone over the age of majority should be able to buy them if they want.

I think all tobacco advertising should be banned though. Having them available for purchase is one thing, selling people on them is something else. If someone wants to come to the decision on their own that they are going to smoke, then they should have that right. But no one should be encouraging them in that direction.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Strangerland: You make a valid point regarding cost to the healthcare system, but smokers do cost someone quite a bit of cash–employers: http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/smokework.htm (another article linked to the same study: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/07/the-cost-of-a-smoker-5816/?_r=0)

On to your next point, that smoking, in general, shouldn't be banned, you could argue that yes, it should be banned, on the same grounds that a person isn't allowed to sell herself/himself into slavery. "Voluntary slavery" is a contradiction; as long as you wish to give up your free will, that's not slavery–it's simply your free will. In the future, if you no longer wish to be a slave, but are forced to remain so because of a previous decision, then it's no longer a voluntary act. Taken into the realm of smoking, you could argue that, sure, you're free to choose whether or not to smoke now, but given the addictive properties of cigarettes, you are possibly giving up your free will not to smoke in the future.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I personally like everything to be smoke-free, but there is no such thing as being "behind." The laws are what they are, and Japan will change them at their pace and how they see fit.

Just compare it to this headline: "Japan is behind with gun laws. It is still illegal to own guns," and you see what's wrong.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

There is definitely improvement since say 1990, when cigarette ash cans on train platforms were regularly smoldering with toxic fumes of burning dirty cigarette filters.

I think you mean 2009. Smoking was allowed on JR platforms until then.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Do any of the Japanese actually talk about this subject, or is it just us gaijin?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Japan is way behind in many other things than smoking.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

As long as the person isn't puffing smoke down my throat, who am I to dictate another person's oral fixation. I always find it funny that people heavily criticize tobacco smoking but smoking weed is no biggie.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Let's hope the approaching Olympics will provide the impetus for a national shift and a national law banning all smoking indoors. It may be the only solution to this unhappy problem.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

You were the one who first mentioned 'banning' other sins such as overeating, drinking and lack of exercise.

I was not, I was responding to the comment by igloobuyer:

they cost the non-smoking tax payers billions in health care costs - it's the non-smokers who are being punished by smoker's filthy habit.

Which is making an economic argument for banning smoking. He/she doesn't specifically say all smoking but it's pretty well explicit, I think.

As long as the risk are well understood and the person is not subjecting others unwillingly to the direct consequences of their consumption I don't honestly see any reason to be stricter on tobacco for private, home consumption than we are now...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Regardless of whether smokers or non-smokers cost the health service more, the economic argument is that if cigarettes were priced out of reach only rich fools with money to burn would be able to afford them and many people who died early after years of wheezing, breathless coughing-their-guts-up misery would still be alive - and healthy - today.

The tobacco industry lures smokers into their web when they are young and stupid, so that by the time they grow up and realise that smoking is not cool at all but a very, very bad idea, they are hopelessly addicted. Keep cigarettes economically out of reach of young people and the plague would go away in a generation.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The bad thing about banning smoking in public is that people who live with smokers -- their children and spouses -- will suffer the most when smokers indulge in their habit inside a tiny house or apartment rather than outside in the open air.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

JoiceRojoNov. 10, 2014 - 09:00PM JST In fact Japan is way behind on anti-smoking policies that make sense.

It's all about money. They have decreased number of smokers due to higher cost, but they also increased taxes cigarettes to offset loss in tax revenue. Still, Japan government collects $10 billion in tax revenue each year from tobacco industry. The goverment will not give this up.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It's an economic argument for getting smokers to pay more for the economic effects of their addiction.

The only economic argument offered so far is that smokers cost more in health care, but actually that has been shown to be incorrect, as smokers die earlier, and end up costing less to the health care system (same with fat people). So what economic effects are you referring to?

Smokers with families and loved ones do subject others unwillingly to the direct consequences of their addiction, when they die far too early. It's very, very selfish.

It's still their choice though.

I don't smoke (anymore), and I don't like smoking. I will walk out of a place if it smells smoky when I walk in. But I have a hard time with the idea of telling grown adults that they aren't allowed to smoke if they want to. I don't have a problem with telling them they cannot smoke in certain areas, but that's not the same as telling them they cannot smoke at all.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

this statement is completely false.

Except that it's not.

You have no idea how many health problems arise from smoking that I've have to assist with every day at work. Heart disease, high blood pressure, lung disease, and top it off with the many varieties of cancer people get.

I didn't say that there are not costs associated with health care for smokers - there is no doubt that there are - what I said was that smokers cost less to the health care system than non-smokers do. And while the ones that do go on to live long will cost more, they are not the majority. I hope you don't think your anecdotal evidence supersedes actual data:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2012/03/22/alcohol-obesity-and-smoking-do-not-cost-health-care-systems-money/

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/05/health/05iht-obese.1.9748884.html?_r=0

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/08/how-much-does-smoking-cos_n_184554.html

http://healthland.time.com/2009/08/04/does-prevention-really-cut-health-care-costs/

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Cleo

The quote we're supposed to be commenting on refers specifically to smoking in public, and second-hand smoke.

Yes, I know. That was implicit in my original comment, which your reply seems to have ignored by talking about how smoke affected you. It affects a lot of people.

Please don't criticize my comments without reading the context in which they were written.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

While I hate it when people are smoking around me while I eat, I don't think that it should be regulated that people cannot smoke in restaurants. If I walk into a restaurant and it's smoky, I just choose to eat at another restaurant. Sometimes I say something, sometimes I don't.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

Cleo

If smoking affected only smokers, you might have a point.

I'm not talking about smoking in public, i am talking about people smoking in private or in their own homes. That doesn't affect you or me.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Jaapn is more tolerant of smoking than many countries which to my mind is a good thing. The healthcare argument is spurious - if more Japanese smoke than elsewhere in the worl how come they tend to live longer. and yes, tobacco taxes more than cover the small incremental cost of looking after those who hacve suffered ill health from smoking. As for saying it is most harmful to others, what about drunkenness and associated violence and social problems? Bad driving? Obesity?

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

//Smoking was allowed on JR platforms until then.

Oh happy days :-)

//no longer do I leave places stinking of smoke.

Hey, give us back our smoke, do you know how much tobacco costs..dammit. I'm all for compulsory hoovering of the lungs of non-smokers...they can get their own smoke.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Raise the price of a pack of cigarettes to 1500 yen per pack. You'll see people start cutting down and quitting instantly.

If people want to smoke, they should be allowed to smoke. I have no problem with limiting the places they can smoke outdoors. But I see no reason why they should be punished with huge taxes on packs of cigarettes.

-8 ( +5 / -13 )

They are not being 'punished', they cost the non-smoking tax payers billions in health care costs - it's the non-smokers who are being punished by smoker's filthy habit.

Apparently you haven't done your research. Smokers cost less than non-smokers, because they die younger and don't incur the same end--of-life health costs that non-smokers incur.

So according to your logic, either the non-smokers should be being taxed at a higher rate, or else smokers should receive tax-credits. Which do you prefer?

-10 ( +3 / -13 )

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