Thursday, April 17, 2008

Japan and Smoking - Controlling smoking on the streets

Before I came to Japan, I must admit that I was expecting smoking to be more of a problem for me. Don't get me wrong - I don't smoke; by being a problem for me, I just mean having to walk through clouds of smoke just like what happens sometimes when entering or leaving buildings in the US. I must say that I was very pleasantly surprised. Not only is it easy to find non-smoking sections in restaurants, laws actually prevent smoking on the streets save for special areas. This does not mean that the Japanese people do not smoke. In fact, I have seen quite a few smokers of all ages but thankfully they have not affected me as much as their counterparts in the US.

I took this picture of two "anti-smoking policemen" at Shinjuku/新宿 close to the train station. They actually give people tickets for smoking on the spot though I have seen may be one or two people in the 5+ months I have been here. The picture above is the sign on the ground explaining in multiple languages that it is illegal to smoke in the street. You cannot imagine how big a relief this was for me since over the years I have become extremely sensitive to breathing in the fumes. Nowadays even a little amount is enough to get me coughing... Of course I am also glad that smokers still can smoke if they want to - just at places away from people who do not want to breathe in the fumes.

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