Saturday, June 10, 2006

Smoker's Paradise

Attention all Smokers - Come to Japan!

Honestly, coming from NY where they have banned smoking in bars and clubs and even parks, I was flabbergasted to see what was going on here in Japan.

First, they say there is an age requirement to smoke. But, considering that cigarettes are dispensed from unattended vending machines, that age requirement must instead be a height requirement.
"If you're tall enough to reach the coin slot, then it's yours. "
Ironically, that excludes many of the adults too. =) kidding.

Second, cigarettes are dirt cheap here. In the US, a pack costs about $8 (800 yen). Here, a pack costs $2 (200yen). Given that a scoop of ice-cream is $5 (500yen), kids can't afford not to smoke.

There isn't any anti-smoking campaign here. No government pressure on Tobacco companies to regulate advertising policies. No media attention on smoker's death rates.

But there is some effort toward smoke awareness in Japan.

Most restaurants have smoking sections and non smoking sections. Never mind that the smoking tables are placed right next to the non smoking tables, it's the thought that counts.

Then they passed a law about smoking and walking. I think you get fined $20 (2,000yen) if you're caught smoking and walking in some areas. As an alternative, they've built small smoking posts at some spots and full-fledged smoking booths at others. This way, you can enjoy your smokes outside... on the inside!

Finally, to complete the utopia of this smoker's paradise, most companies (including mine) provide smoking rooms in the office fully equipped with the finest air filters available. Good stuff right?

Actually, I would love to be in charge of Japan's tourism campaign. I have lots of good ideas that I'm happy to share.

For example:

1. "Want to die on your own terms? Come to Japan."
2. "All I can afford are cigarettes. Come to Japan."
3. "Prisoners of nicotine, Come to Japan."
4. "Got a Light? Come to Japan."

I can go on like this all day long... So! Do I have a job?

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