Compared with many countries, the number of smokers in Japan is still relatively high, with the official figure as of July this year standing at 20.9% of the adult population. However, that said, Tokyo is no longer the smoking heaven it once was, as while it’s still pretty much a free for all in places where booze is the main preoccupation, plenty of regulations have been introduced elsewhere, including outside, on the street. The rules related to the latter in particular forcing desperate salarymen into clandestine and comically rushed smokes when away from the workplace.
Plus despite owning a hefty chunk of Japan Tobacco, the government has stated it plans to reduce the number of smokers to a seemingly overambitious 12% by 2023. Although with the current figures on a downward trend for the last 18 years, the powers that be at least have a fighting chance of sorts.
All of which, along with some serious competition from vending machines, convenience stores and supermarkets, means the capital’s quaint little neighbourhood tobacco kiosks are going to have a lot more days like this.
He look tired.Maybe it humid and stuffy in the small kiosk. He sell smoking pipe too. I don’t even know they also sell this.
I often seen the tobacco vending machine just beside the kiosks. I wondered do they also top up the vending machine when it is sold out
I think it’s quite hard to reduce the number of smokers in Japan or any countries.
In my opinion, Beer and Tobacco are like stable food(Rice, bread etc) to Japanese.
And there are so many varieties..with sleek packaging and very reasonable price. In my country, very expensive with”horrible”and scary picture on the packaging!
That’s very true. Smoking often seems to go hand-in-hand with the long hours and after work drinks too.
Pretty sure that the machines outside such places are stocked up by the owner, so at least they make money from that too.
And yeah, don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone smoking a pipe in Japan…
Hans ter Horst says
It is indeed a bit strange that Japan has such a strong view of drug use yet the government has the monopoly on cigarettes and you see the advertisements everywhere. A bit random, IMO. If only cigarettes didn’t stink up the place so much, I’m sure that nobody really care about the health issues of the addicted, but I cannot stand the smell. I was living in Stockholm for about 6 years and there they often use ‘snus’ which gave the users their fix and didn’t bother anybody else. 🙂
Yes, real hypocrisy in action there. Hard to believe the government’s supposed conviction in reducing the number of smokers too, when they obviously make so much money from them. Although how that balances with the healthcare costs I don’t know.
Despite Japan’s obvious love of nicotine, I somehow can’t see ‘snus’ catching on. Not seen any e-cigarettes either though, which I thought would be a popular alternative.
I always thought those in certain districts in Tokyo missed a trick back in the ’80s and ’90s by not selling cigars.
Yeah, they’d have surely made a killing. Slightly odd that cigars are such a rarity really. No idea why.
The guys at the kiosks do fill the vending machines, I’ve seen them do it. Also seen them wander off with the machine open and half-filled!
I used the kiosks a bit when I lived in a Japan. I never got around to getting the card (TASCO???) that you need to use the machines. I’m pretty sure half the old guys are retired and have tacked the kiosk onto the front of their houses to make some extra cash, probably encouraged by the obasan to get him out of her hair!
One of the strangest things to me, as a smoker in Japan, was that the price is the same everywhere! In Australia, it can vary by up to $5 a pack depending on where you buy them. Thanks for posting this, great photo and brings back memories of the kiosk near where I lived. Btw you are supposed to buy at kiosks by the number (each pack has a number assigned to it) rather than brand name. I never knew that for a long time.
Ah yeah, the Taspo. None of friends who smoke have bothered to get one. Not sure why, although with convenience stores everywhere, it’s not as though it’s difficult to buy cigarettes.
They do seem to be little side businesses, don’t they? And as part of the house they at least won’t be paying rent.
I stopped smoking about 10 years ago and don’t recall the number thing then, although I was perhaps just totally oblivious to it. Have noticed a lot more in the last few years. Not sure what the idea is. Hardly problematic to simply ask for a specific brand.
At only17, Kai already felt like he was in a dead-end job.
Miss Plaid Girl says
although I think it’s great they want to lower numbers, I can’t really imagine how hard it’ll be for small tobacco kiosks to make money :< such a great photo too!
It’ll be very hard. In fact it must be now with all the competition. They simply won’t survive. Or at least not as a business. And those that do will simply be run out of habit/the need to keep on working.