Vernicious Knids

Random musings and snapshots about life, love, travel and everything in between...

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Ssssmokin'...

When I first moved to Japan it was a smokers' paradise. Cigarettes were ridiculously cheap and you could smoke anywhere and everywhere. The dangers of second-hand smoke were ignored and in fact Japan Tobacco funded studies to prove that there was no danger to health. Second-hand smoke is also known as Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS). Japan Tobacco says "the claim that ETS is a cause of disease in non-smokers has not been convincingly demonstrated". However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated in Janaury 1993 that ETS is a known human carcinogen and is classified as an environmental toxin akin to asbestos and other hazardous substances.

I never used to see signs like this...



But recently this kind of sign is becoming more and more common. Chiyoda-ku blazed the way for non-smoking streets in Tokyo and most of the other Tokyo wards have followed suit. Interestingly, these bans were introduced to prevent singed suits and dirty streets rather than to protect citizens' health.

The sign above was snapped in one of Shinjuku's "Special Area for the Promotion of Beautification" - if you throw away a butt here, you'll be fined up to 20 000 yen! (That's about US$185 or AUD$235.)

BTW the Japanese government is a major stakeholder in Japan Tobacco...
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18 Comments:

  • At 2:08 am, Anonymous art lover said…

    I hate the smell of smoke.

     
  • At 2:56 am, Anonymous antonia said…

    I totally agree art lover! I hate it when it gets in your hair when you go out.

     
  • At 3:40 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Stinky hair is bad but the smell is the worse

     
  • At 7:29 am, Blogger Alex, Chiyo & Hiroki said…

    The thing that makes me laugh is that here in Japan the cigarette vending machines function until 9pm only. The theory being that under age smokers will be thwarted if they want to grab a secret pack of butts under the cover of darkness. BUT surely this just makes it all the easier to pick them up in broad daylight on the way to kindergarten. It's not like anyone would come running after them. Maybe that says more about me than Japan tho! Heheh.

     
  • At 8:50 am, Blogger Elsa said…

    The Japanese government being a major stakeholder in Japan Tobacco is probably not a good thing since it's tough to be objective and regulate yourself when you have a financial interest.

     
  • At 11:08 am, Blogger verniciousknids said…

    AL: Yeah I don't like it either

    A: Smoke in your hair is gross - even worse than in your clothes!

    Anon: Yep!

     
  • At 11:11 am, Blogger verniciousknids said…

    A, C & H: It's ludicrous, isn't it? I've never really noticed...but I wonder if they have cigarette vending machines near schools?!

    Looks like the "honour system" doesn't really work though!

    And are cigs so cheap here so that kids can afford them with their pocket money?!

     
  • At 11:13 am, Blogger verniciousknids said…

    Elsa: You are so right! Until 2004 the government owned 65% but now it's "only" 50%...

     
  • At 11:15 am, Blogger Bearette24 said…

    i wish they would just ban smoking altogether, it smells so gross (in addition to all the health objections).

     
  • At 11:20 am, Blogger verniciousknids said…

    Bearette: I agree, I'm becoming less and less tolerant of the smell the older I get too! I hate going to restaurants that have a smoking section here...as it's generally right next to the non-smoking section without much partition. However, some restaurants are starting to get the message and are doing a better job by their non-smoking customers. It's one reason that I buy from Starbucks so much...no smoky smell while I'm waiting.

     
  • At 11:56 am, Anonymous blog reader said…

    VK, that's so icky having smoke near food.

     
  • At 12:25 pm, Blogger Amy said…

    Oh my goodness, I haven't seen a cigarette vending machine since growing up in Kentucky (where tobacco is a BIG deal!). We had one in our town's local diner hang-out. How interesting that tobacco and the Japanese government are so intricately tied together. Things that make you go hmmm...

     
  • At 1:47 pm, Blogger Lou said…

    This was a very informative post. I really enjoy learning about Japan through your blog.

    In regards to smoking, I sort of quit 10 years ago (only limited it to "social" smoking while at a bar). I probably totally quit 7 years ago. Now, the smell bothers me, too.

     
  • At 6:01 pm, Blogger Helen said…

    They've just banned smoking in bars and resturants here in Sweden and its so nice to come back after a night out not stinking of smoke. Never heard of non-smoking streets though! Helen

     
  • At 11:44 pm, Blogger verniciousknids said…

    Blog reader: It's pretty disgusting but I've learned where to go to avoid this as much as possible. It's much better than when I first arrived here!

     
  • At 11:46 pm, Blogger verniciousknids said…

    I'm glad you enjoyed it Lou, thanks. Maybe the increased smoke sensitivity is an age-related thing...or maybe it's just because now that I'm older I know how dangerous it actually is?!

     
  • At 11:49 pm, Blogger verniciousknids said…

    Helen: Theoretically it's a non-smoking street, but I haven't seen it actually enforced. Like most things here it's left to peer pressure - rather than the cops - to police it!

     
  • At 1:14 am, Blogger verniciousknids said…

    Oops...amy I missed your comment :(

    Vending machines of all varieties are EVERYWHERE in Japan...there's softdrinks / coffee / soups / alcohol / cigarettes / batteries / bags of rice / manga / bouquets of flowers etc. I've only seen the flowers once, in Shibuya, when I first arrived...unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me at the time - I still regret that!

     

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