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Smokin’ Crean

July 7th, 2003

After getting my new gaijin card, I left the shiyakusho (city hall) and saw a group of people dressed just like the illustration at right. These are the Japan Tobacco “Smokin’ Clean” clean-up team. Japan is getting better and better about smoking, but is still a relative smoker’s paradise. Many restaurants have no-smoking sections, but the smoking sections prevail, and are in nicer areas. Most workplaces, banks, rest areas and other public places are still smoking havens; the major exception is train platforms, which recently became entirely smoke-free.

The whole “Smokin’ Clean” campaign (when you hear it on television, it sounds like “Smo-kin’, CREEEN!”), aside from being a rather glaring oxymoron, is supposed to address the bad manners smokers are often famed for here, particularly littering. Japanese streets, of course, are far less tidy than is commonly believed overseas, and the major component of that street trash is from cigarettes. I long ago formed, tested and proved (well, to myself anyway) the theory that you could go to any place on any street in Japan at random, stop, and when you look around, see at least half a dozen cigarette butts laying there, often many more.

When you observe smokers here, it is not too surprising. Too often used to tossing butts on the street (and rarely even bothering to stomp them out), many seem to have gotten into the tossing habit. On more than one occasion, I have observed a smoker finishing a pack and approaching a vending machine to buy a new one–and instead of using the trash receptacle in or next to the machine, they crumple up and toss the empty pack on the street just a few feet away. Of course, this is nothing compared to the middle-aged businessman smoker, the guy who hawks loudly and spits disgustingly smack in the middle of the sidewalk or train station hallway. Yechh.

Seem like Japan Tobacco has a ways to go to reform the Japanese smoker….

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  1. July 9th, 2003 at 21:15 | #1

    I was teaching at Todai yesterday, and the buzz there is that next year it will be a smoke-free campus. Let’s hope so.

  2. July 11th, 2003 at 18:35 | #2

    It would be great if station platforms all the way across the country became smoke-free. Judging from what I saw when I used the train here in Hiroshima the other day, though, it certainly isn’t the case yet. Perhaps it’s just that the edict hasn’t quite reached the Kure Line yet…

  3. Luis
    July 11th, 2003 at 18:37 | #3

    Nathan: Yeah, after posting this I remembered that the no-smoking policy was, at the time, just for Keio Line trains (others may have switched to that policy too, but I don’t know which ones).

    Ah well. The tide does seem to be turning our way, relentlessly if slowly. Good luck on the Kure Line…

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