Don’t get me wrong, and this is an ex-smoker speaking, in democratic society people should have choices and, of course, those choices should extend two ways. This being the case, I don’t support the banning of smoking in ALL public places, as in Britain under Tony Blair. The former Prime Minister was actually trying to ban people smoking in their own cars, while at the same time trying to promote the British car industry – you tell me which causes more damage to the environment! Anyway, I think that if a person wants to operate a bar or a restaurant for smokers, for example, that is their choice: we can choose if we want to go to the bar, or not! We are adults with the capacity to make those choices. However, I do believe that in truly public areas smoking should be restricted.
In Japan, what most of my students complain about, and are concerned about, is the “smoking while walking” situation that has been brought about, perhaps, by the banning of smoking in some public spaces. There is a danger that children, or wheelchair bound people, may suffer nasty consequences of these actions. Indeed, in Osaka a couple of years ago there was the case where a smoker tossed away his cigarette, and it landed in a passing baby-car, causing injury and distress to the baby.
However, from my honTony point of view, what is far more unacceptable, is the irresponsible provision of smoking areas that is made by shops, rail companies and offices, to name (and shame) but a few, in this otherwise considerate country.
Can somebody please tell me why, at Tennoji JR station, and 100s of other stations around Japan, smoking areas are provided in the middle of platforms, so that when trains stop and the doors open, the smoke (from the leper colony huddled together outside) rushes into the packed carriage? Can somebody also tell me why convenience stores have their smoking areas in the doorway to the store?
In front of my house, there is a Lawson’s, which is very useful, convenient even! 🙂 But sometimes when I walk over to buy something with my kids, I have to fight my way through 7, or 8, smokers creating a volcanic plume of pollution, just to buy some milk and sweets. Very convenient, I always tell my long-suffering wife! Why don’t they put the smoking area at the end of the building, or down the side, where it doesn’t affect non-smokers?
Outside Avanza Building, where the British Council is located, is no better sometimes. When I come to work, there is often a huddled group gathered around the front door, sucking on their cancer sticks and producing a small cloud of anti-social fumes, which, as I said earlier, in a democratic society with choice, I shouldn’t have to pass through. I really can’t believe that in this health-conscious (Japanese) society people allow this to happen.
What are your thoughts on smoking in public and the provision of smoking areas? I Would honTony love to hear your views, smokers and non-smokers.