To Smoke or Not to Smoke, is that really a question?

When I first came to Japan…my mind was blown at how smoking friendly it really is. And that was perhaps one of my biggest culture shocks. In America everywhere says no smoking, don’t smoke, we have TV ads that depict gruesome ways smoking could affect you and even on the packages now there are more warnings.


We have many aids such as the nicotine patch, nicotine replacement, and behavioral therapy and so on. We sell cigarettes behind the counter and every time you buy them the cashier checks your ID. Some places even have a sound go off to make sure they check your ID.

In Japan I have yet to see someone’s ID being checked. It could be that if you look old enough rule that we have in America. Where if you look over 40 or something they won’t check your ID. But sometimes my mom even had to show it at Wal-Mart so I don’t really understand the screening for that.

And another reason I think the age check is a very loose term is the existence of these bad boys.

Cig machine.jpg

This is one of the cigarette machines in Japan; they do not check your ID. They are akin to the drink machines where you just enter the money and then they give you which ever pack you chose. And some machines have different brands in them, but these are what they all generally look like.

The smoking age in Japan is 20, so I often wonder if street youth or curious teens or even children buy these. There seems to be no restrictions to these machines. I wonder do the Japanese just operate on morals. Like they believe that no one under 20 will them or so….I have no idea. Where I live now the only machines I tend to see are the ones outside of liquor stores, in the grocery store and downtown in the bar area. In Hiroshima I saw them EVERYWHERE so much more than I see here, but that’s also probably because there are more people in Hiroshima and its more of a city unlike Matsue.

I did hear though that they are hoping to get the population smoking less. Japan is very concerned with the 2020 Olympics and many are concerned that Japan is too smoking friendly. Many people are concerned about second hand smoking and that many restaurants in Japan allow smoking in the restaurants…But even while this happens many of the places that allow smoking in restaurants have special rooms for it. This is nice because while you’re eating you don’t have to smell it if you don’t want to. I wonder how Japan will take care of this issue by 2020.



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