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Read This Before Your Trip! Smoking Rules and Etiquette in Japan

Many people smoke cigarettes all over the world, and it may be a point of concern for those visiting Japan to know what the current situation for smoking is like in Japan. With that, here are some tips and etiquette for smokers visiting Japan!

Smoking in Japan

In Japan, citizens can start smoking once they turn 20, the age at which they are legally recognized as adults. The price for a pack of cigarettes varies by brand, but is generally around 500 JPY. In 2018, strict laws were put in place to make all family restaurants non-smoking and to overall reduce the amount of smoking areas in cities and towns all around Japan. As further regulations are expected to be put in place as Japan prepares to host the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics and Paralympics, it will get more and more difficult for smokers to find places to smoke in Japan. That said, here are some tips and know-how for smokers in Japan to keep in mind even amid these strict restrictions.

1. Where to Purchase Cigarettes

Convenience Stores and KIOSKs

Convenience stores and KIOSKs placed within stations are the most convenient and reasonably priced places to purchase cigarettes, and they also tend to have a large variety in stock as well. Typically, each type of cigarette will have a number, so all you have to do is tell the store staff the associated number to purchase the pack that you desire. Those who appear too young to purchase tobacco products might be asked to verify their age. If this happens to you, please show the staff your driver's license or passport.

Specialty Stores

You will also find various tobacco specialty stores throughout cities in Japan. These stores are likely to sell rare varieties you won't be able to find anywhere else. There are many stores that have a cool, retro look. While there are usually cigarette vending machines placed outside or near these shops, a "taspo" card (only available to residents of Japan) is required to use them, so they are not recommended for tourists.

2. Where to Smoke

Designated Smoking Areas Near Stations

While the amount of designated smoking areas are being reduced, as mentioned previously, there will still be places to smoke set up near major stations. The smoking areas are clearly marked, so it is a good idea to search your nearest station if you want to smoke. Make sure to smoke only in the designated area.

Smoking Sections of Restaurants and Shopping Centers

Currently, there are many eateries, bars, and shopping centers that have smoking sections where it is okay to smoke. However, in order to protect employees from secondhand smoke, an ordinance to prevent smoking in all eateries with employees is about to be put into place ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics and Paralympics. Remember that it is important to show consideration for those who do not smoke.

3. Smoking Etiquette

Do Not Smoke While Walking

Smoking while walking is banned throughout Japan, and there are many places where simply smoking outside is banned as well. Therefore, please refrain from smoking while walking. In addition to causing harm to those around you, you could ever incur a fine.

Do Not Toss Cigarette Butts on the Ground

Please refrain from littering used cigarettes in order to protect the environment as well as ensure the beauty of surrounding scenery. While there are certain areas where it is permissible to smoke while outside, you still need to take responsibility for properly disposing of your used cigarettes. For times like these, it is recommended to take a portable ashtray with you, as you can use them to dispose of your cigarette butts and ash without worry.

The rules regarding tobacco use can vary greatly between countries, so it is very important to look up each country's rules and laws if you want to smoke during your travels. While in Japan, make sure to smoke in a way that doesn't negatively affect both the smokers and non-smokers around you while following these rules and etiquette.

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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