The TASPO tobacco vending machine is pervading Japan, but the TASPO card is less pervasive. And Osaka's municipal law that forbids street smoking on Mido-suji Avenue went effective in October 2007, but it has been implemented less effectively. In the meanwhile, May 31 is coming this year as well--World No Tobacco Day.
Buying a pack of tobacco should be appreciated because not only the tobacco price includes more than 60% tax but also part of the tax contributes to the paying of a debt Japan Railways, or JR left when it was privatized, though more and more seats on the train and spots at the station are disappearing where you can smoke. And the advocacy on smoke-freed public places is only meant for the keeping away from passive smoke. However, tobacco is always somehow controversial somewhere.
You may remember you were surprised at how paradisiacal it is for smokers here right from your first step in Japan. Or it looked strange that some of the passengers who just had disembarked from the airplane rushed into the tiny booth for smoking.
Stopping by at a pub or bar makes you fed up with the smoky ambience, which prevents you from enjoying the aroma of wine or brew.
On a razzle-dazzle floor of night club, a light on cigarette often passes quite close to you or burns your clothes in the worst of times.
And even at a bus stop with a “No Smoking” signboard posted, you cannot escape from smoke, as well as exhaust gas--sometimes a driver of bus is smoking for a rest.
Nonetheless, the movement to smoke-freed public places is slowly in progress even here in Japan. At stations of the nine major private railroads in Kanto, smoking is entirely forbidden. In a taxi, so it is in metropolitan areas such as Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Aichi, and Fukuoka. However, what's on earth going on in Kansai? As for taxi, in Kyoto, a smoke-free policy has been applied just since March 1 this year (in Nara and Shiga, since May 31, 2008). Anyway, in terms of smoke-freeing public spaces, Kansai in general is behind other areas; especially when compared to Kanagawa Prefecture that has established the municipal law subject to punishment to ban smoking in public places.
Are Kansaian people more tolerant of everything? It may need more examinations, but there should be many, who like to spend their time in clean air because they most certainly think they just want to do so and will never try to exclude smokers or eliminate spaces for smoking. They only hope that Japan's society will comply with the WHO tobacco control treaty--the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)--which Japan has ratified and that the relevant domestic law (the Health Promotion Law) which includes an article to prevent exposure to secondhand smoke in public places will be enforced more effectively.