To smoke or not to smoke!

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Patrick Harrington is a good friend of mine at Think Twice, a blog dedicated to his English students.
Like me he is a dedicated anti-smoker, although I’m only a repented non-smoker!
As we both live in Shizuoka City, Japan, we hope this will bring a little contribution to the betterment of life and gastronomy!

_To smoke or not to smoke_

It’s a battle of rights: the right to smoke against the right to a smoke-free environment.

In the past the right to smoke has been the undisputed winner.
However for a few decades smoking has been banned on public transport, such as airplanes, trains (except the Shinkansen!) and even buses, and this has spread to subway train systems and cinemas. But these bans were because of fire-risk, ie on safety rather than health grounds.
More recently legislation in Europe and North America has required a full or partial ban on smoking in many more public places, such as restaurants and bars. This has been on health grounds, and the pendulum continues to swing.

I must confess that I do not smoke and the new legislation has made an immense difference to my social life back home. No longer do I think twice about going out, no longer do I become disgusted when a stream of smoke envelops my head, and no longer do I worry about the laundry bill.
Most of all though I am content that I am not putting myself into a higher risk group of developing lung or throat cancer.
Incidentally there is some fledgling research which suggests two knock-on effects of this smoking ban.
Firstly, there has been an increase in traffic accidents as tipsy smokers spill onto the streets for a relaxing smoke.
And, secondly, it is predicted that there will be an increase in the incidence of cancer in children, since many smokers are choosing to enjoy their cigarettes in the comfort of their homes, and the rest you can guess.
Worrying as these may be, these effects remain unsubstantiated.

So how is the battle faring in Japan? As far as restaurants and bars are concerned the right to smoke is still certainly winning. Despite the fact that a few Tokyo wards and some city centres have been designated smoke-free, it is very rare to find a place to eat or drink where
smoking is prohibited.
Many establishments, particularly family restaurants, have separate smoking and non-smoking sections, but these are often two sections of the same room, even sharing the same air-conditioning system, so have limited effect.
Some places have separate rooms, often divided by a glass partition, and these work pretty well for the customers, but the staff still suffer.
And there are some places, especially in Tokyo and the major cities, that have prohibited smoking altogether, the Starbucks chain being one famous example.
But in a provincial city like Shizuoka such places are rare. My sister-in-law opened her own cafe a few years ago, and took the brave decision to go smoke-free. It has probably cost her some business, but it has surely preserved her health.

The tide has turned and the current movement toward smoking bans will inevitably come to Tokyo, and then to Yokohama and the provinces, but it is not a great vote-catcher at present. My personal estimate is that we won’t see a full ban for another generation or so, 2020 is my

10 thoughts on “To smoke or not to smoke!”

  1. I must say it is refreshing to read sensible and reasoned comments rather than some of the wretched opprobrium that all too often spoils blogs and chatrooms.
    I agree with the main thrust of everyone’s comments: smokers are free to smoke, but not when it impinges on others, especially in an establishment that serves food or drink.


  2. I don’t have a problem if someone wants to run the risk of lung cancer and other deseases that can come with smoking for there own body. However, when your in public your not just risking yourself your also risking all those around you. My daughter and I both get very sick when exposed to 2nd Hand smoke so I’m greatful that the resturants here are smoke free. Its hard to enjoy a meal out if the table next to you is smoking and your eyes are burning and watering as a result. And later you have a headache that feels like a truck is parked on your head along with a raw soar througt. Needless to say we didn’t go out much before the ban even when they had 2 different sections to sit in. (Smoke doesn’t stay in one place) If you want to see what happens to people exposed to 2nd hand smoke up close and personal go work in an assisted care facility and care for a few. I have and its not a pretty sight.
    Wishing Good Health to you.


  3. Dear regina, Christophe and CPla!
    We all seem to agree.
    Incidentally I have a lot of sympathy for CPla. I gave up smoking 20 years ago for the better, but likewise I have developped some kind of allergy,too. I go as far as to tell friends watching our cricket to smoke somewhere else, and this in open air! I’m particularly distressed by the fetid breath of smokers when they stand beside me.
    When I see my japanese students smoking, I adopt a different technique: I just ask them how much they spend in a year on tobacco: enough money to buy a small motorcycle!
    Cheers to you al,


  4. I smoked for 33 years before stopping as my 50th birthday present to myself, also all the people who love me and were pushing me to quit.

    I would smoke wherever allowed. Since quitting, I have developed an allergy to cigarette smoke, so exposure to second-hand smoke leaves me sneezing etc for a few days after. Karmic payback for all those years of subjecting others to my smoke I suppose.

    Even as a smoker, I preferred non-smoking restaurants for the better environment, and I was definitely not the only smoker who felt that way.

    Here in Bangkok, smoking is now banned in air-conditioned areas and the restaurants certainly comply. Pubs are a different story, some do and some do not comply. Those that do not comply pointed to a downturn in business to justify their actions, but I have been to a few that allow smoking in contravention of the ban – business is still minimal, so whatever the reason for lack of business, it was not the smoking ban.

    Yes, smoking should be banned in all enclosed areas. Smokers can step out for a smoke if they need one – I did.


  5. Robert Gilles,

    I fully agree!
    Restaurants and bars have been much more liveable since the smoking ban has been implemented in Paris and in France.
    Why did it take so much time?

    Smokers has the right to smoke as long as they do not disturb anyone who does not want or like to be bothered by smoke.

    So only counterpart is that some places in Paris have bad air conditioning and ventilation, so some unpleasant smells that were “hidden” by cigarette smoke re-appear.


  6. Second hand smoke has been proven to contribute to the risks of cancer. When a person smokes in a resturant, they are subjecting the rest of the patrons to their dangerous second hand smoke. Sometimes, these patrons include children, pregnant women, and nursing mothers. It is not fair for our children to suffer for someone else’s bad habit.

    Smoking in resturants should be prohibited everywhere. Resturants are for dining, not smoking. If an individual feel the need to light up, they are more than welcome to smoke outside where the smoke is not confined.

    Every person has the right to choose whether to smoke or not to smoke. The negative effects of smoking is not a secret. It responsible smoker should be conscience of who is around them and act accordingly.


  7. When I go to a restaurant, I go to eat the food, not smell the next table’s cigarette smoke. The senses of taste and smell are so closely interlinked that somebody smoking a fag on the next table can ruin everybody’s meal.

    In Britain, smoking has been banned for just over a year, and it’s been a revelation. Bars, pubs and restaurant are suddenly much nicer places.

    I’m a completely unrepentant anti-smoker…I’ll defend people’s right to smoke, that’s fine, but they don’t have a right to smoke when it damages my health and welfare. There’s a time and a place for everything, and the place for smoking is definitely not on the next table to me in an otherwise excellent restaurant.

    The smoking ban has led to another interesting phenomenon…the rise of the smoking shelter. Every pub in the land now has a little shelter outside for the hapless smoker to stand under. Carpenters and builders up and down the land have had a very good year.


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