Thursday, July 31, 2014

Japan's smoking rate drops to record low

Japan's smoking rate drops to record low

If true, this is good news.  From my anecdotal observations, there may be some truth to it.  I don't think I'm being exposed to secondhand smoke quite as much as when I first moved to Japan.  The amount of smoking in public that goes on here shocked me.  And I grew up in a smoking household, plus I spent a number of years pretty much living in bars.  I didn't think smoking could get to me.  But it did.

In some places you'll see little glass booths now for smokers.  If you want to discourage public smoking, I suppose turning the smokers into something like an aquarium display is a good start.  But there are still smoking sections in restaurants called "family restaurants" here, including one we regularly go to because it's cheap and near our place.  And you know, if one person in a room is smoking, then everyone in the room is.  My wife and I think smoking sections are ridiculous.  Just ban restaurant smoking outright.

My worst smoking experience here was in the Freshness Burger at Act City.  I used to like to go there on weekend afternoons for lunch, have a burger and some delicious fries, then read a book for a little bit while I digested.  You could smoke anywhere in Freshness Burger, and one time I went in and a group of business people were sitting at the table right in front of the cash registers, pretty much the central most location in the entire restaurant.  And all six of them were smoking away, just filling the Freshness Burger with the foulest burning tobacco stench I'd ever experienced, including all those years in bars.  It singed my nostrils and stung my eyes.

Another more recent smoking moment was not quite so bad, but still disgusting.  A few weeks ago, my wife and went to Denny's for lunch and they told us there weren't any non-smoking tables available and asked would we mind sitting in the smoking half of the restaurant.  We agreed, but we didn't last long.  Within moments, my nostrils began twitching and I could taste burned ashes on my lips.  My mouth dried up the way it used to around a lot of smokers and I told my wife we were going to have to move.  She told a server, and we were lucky enough they had a table for us.

Riding in a smoking car on the shinkansen can be unpleasant if you're not a smoker, too.  So for me, seeing smokers behind glass here and signs telling people it's rude to blow smoke in other pedestrians' faces while they walk along the sidewalk are a welcome sight.  As opposed to some dude blazing away in his suit and tie and not giving a rat's ass about the kids playing at the table immediately next to him in the "non-smoking" section.

Anyway, go Japan!

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