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Japanese smoking etiquette
July 22, 2005 4:11 PM   Subscribe

In summertime, the arms that pass near my lit cigarette are bare. A collection of Japanese smoking etiquette signs, some haiku-like, some heart-rending, and some just strange. (via Mimi Smartypants)
posted by Kat Allison (32 comments total)

 
This one has always been my favorite, because...a 700℃ fire in your hand?? How cool is that!!
posted by Bugbread at 4:18 PM on July 22, 2005


Excelent post, thanks Kat.
posted by btwillig at 4:27 PM on July 22, 2005


[this is good]
posted by amarynth at 4:32 PM on July 22, 2005


I've been consistently impressed that

A) They put them all in English as well, and
B) The English is all correct

Wish I'd gotten that translation job...probably payed pretty well.
posted by Bugbread at 4:35 PM on July 22, 2005


Heart-rending? Or vaguely pornographic? It really looks like he's bending that cigarette over. It's my favorite.
posted by peep at 4:38 PM on July 22, 2005


Anything that spells out the atrocious effects of tobacco use on child-bystanders gets a vote of approval from me. These are really amazing.
posted by docpops at 4:41 PM on July 22, 2005


these are a riot. it will probably give the anti-smoking cartel even more utopian ideas. just what we need, more rules.
posted by brandz at 4:57 PM on July 22, 2005


Marvelous! Thanks for sharing.
posted by .kobayashi. at 5:00 PM on July 22, 2005


brandz : "it will probably give the anti-smoking cartel even more utopian ideas. just what we need, more rules."

As a person living in Japan, I'd like to reiterate what you said, but without the sarcasm. I hope this gives the anti-smoking cartel even more utopian ideas, because (in regards to smoking), just what Japan needs is, in fact, more rules.
posted by Bugbread at 5:20 PM on July 22, 2005


I hear heart-rending just got slapped with an AO rating.

Actions depicted, however, might be legal in Washington.
posted by sellout at 5:30 PM on July 22, 2005


I don't know about Japan, never having been there, but boy howdy, speaking as a smoker myself (one who's gearing up for yet another run at quitting) I loathe smokers who toss their butts on the ground or let their smoke waft into everyone else's airspace. I don't know how effective more rules would be here in the US, but I wish to god a higher consistent level of civility would prevail -- which is partly why I found these signs so endearing.
posted by Kat Allison at 5:31 PM on July 22, 2005


That's right, your FACE. Somehow, that almost sounds like an insult.
posted by invitapriore at 6:15 PM on July 22, 2005


These are great.

I love Mimi Smartypants. She seems like fun.
posted by painquale at 6:19 PM on July 22, 2005


i said sarcastically 'just what WE need is more rules', not japan. i have no idea what japan needs, never having been there myself. perhaps we should impose on japan too. of course, WE know what's best.
posted by brandz at 6:26 PM on July 22, 2005


Before passing gas I look behind me. But I don’t bother when I’m smoking.

Do you think I'd get into trouble if I printed some of these on little cards and handed them out occasionally?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 6:53 PM on July 22, 2005


Those were awesome, thanks.
posted by ddf at 7:02 PM on July 22, 2005


This might be the way to take back the country from those who've stolen it.
A grassroots campaign to do similar etiquette signs, based on political persuasion, on nice signs, instead of spraypainted on the side of some personal property.

Topics like:
Torture
accountability
bullying
police state
speed limits

Bah! what the hell am I thinking? The US is bombarded with signs! Where to turn, Don't turn here, Tourist attraction this way, Fines for littering strictly enforced, Wear your seat belt, Beautification on this road brought to you by Boy Scout troup #147. The only place with more signs is, Japan.

It's just something else to filter OUT as you are travelling.
posted by Balisong at 8:37 PM on July 22, 2005


I remember seeing one saying "people who litter with cigarette butts are like children scolding adults with paintbrushes". I was impressed that the English was correct but the meaning puzzles me to this day.
posted by Jase_B at 10:32 PM on July 22, 2005


Japan is in a unique position regarding tobacco. Most notably, the government has a monopoly on tobacco. Yet, they also have interest in seeing healthier people and cleaner streets.

Also, in Japan, there is a certain amount of respect expected from people. In American culture especially, a "me-first" mindset leaves anti-smoking messages directed more at why smoking is bad for YOU. In Japan, the stigma of being a smelly, inconsiderate smoker is more effective as a deterrent than it would be in the US.

Also, the Japanese work ethic leads to a remarkable level of stress. Of course, this is only one factor, but in Japan, over half of men smoke. There are fewer demands explicitly for not smoking whatsoever, but constant reminders for smokers to abide by certain manners for the comfort of all.

This is simply a normal reaction there, a prodding for politeness regarding a habit that can easily become rude.
posted by Saydur at 11:31 PM on July 22, 2005


bugbread: Wish I'd gotten that translation job...probably payed pretty well.

Not if it was paid by the word.

Anyhow, those signs are all courtesy of Japan Tobacco, the world's third largest tobacco producer. I wonder what might possess a company to put up posters encouraging consumers *not* to use their products. There's probably some background story here, such as JT cutting some deal with the Health Ministry to put up the posters in exchange for not having to put huge warnings like "Smoking gives the baby Jesus cancer" on the packets like they have in Europe.
posted by sour cream at 12:13 AM on July 23, 2005


They seem to have conflicted opinions about portable ashtrays.
posted by Navek Rednam at 2:08 AM on July 23, 2005


Jase_B : "I remember seeing one saying 'people who litter with cigarette butts are like children scolding adults with paintbrushes'. I was impressed that the English was correct but the meaning puzzles me to this day."

That one still puzzles me. And I notice it's not on that page.

Saydur : "Also, the Japanese work ethic leads to a remarkable level of stress."

Americans work the most hours of any country in the developed world now, I believe. But, point taken, from my dealings with American workers, they work hellish hours, but don't have much of a work ethic.

sour cream : "Not if it was paid by the word."

You're right. If paid by the word, it looks like that would be less than an $80 job (counted the number of words in the first 10 ads, and multiplied by 4.2 to get the probably total of words).

sour cream : "There's probably some background story here, such as JT cutting some deal with the Health Ministry to put up the posters in exchange for not having to put huge warnings like 'Smoking gives the baby Jesus cancer' on the packets like they have in Europe."

There may be some special deal, but that isn't it, as the Japanese tobacco warnings grew to be about half the package starting a month or two ago. However, they tend to be very verbose, so Japanese tobacco warnings are the equivalent of:

Tobacco has been determined in scientific inquiries to lead to an increased risk of lung cancer, emphysema, cardiac arrest, and other possible health complications. As such, excessive use of tobacco should be avoided in order to avoid possible health risks.

While in the UK they tend to be more like:

SMOKING CAUSES IMPOTENCE

Same amount of package real-estate, but significant difference in visual impact.
posted by Bugbread at 7:09 AM on July 23, 2005


who really believes smoking causes impotence? more scare tactics to control the minions.
posted by brandz at 7:17 AM on July 23, 2005


That one still puzzles me. And I notice it's not on that page.

Yes, it's here. I guess it's like that fish without the bicycle quote.
posted by LeLiLo at 10:17 AM on July 23, 2005


Ah, whoops, didn't notice it there. Thanks.
posted by Bugbread at 10:27 AM on July 23, 2005


Smoking can result in alterations of the male sex hormones and is a key cause of and contributor to erectile dysfunction.

First, most recent, paper to catch my eye on the topic on a superficial pubmed search. Haven't read it, but it seems like a likely cause.

I was told (in a Canadian "sexual health" class in HS, lo about a decade ago) that nicotine can, in addition to 'scoring' arteries to make them more susceptible to buildup of LDL --> cause strokes/&c, also damages the vasculature of the penis. Didn't really believe them then, don't particularly hold to that idea now, either, nor on the coronary disease aspect.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 9:18 PM on July 23, 2005


seems to me, as a scientist, most studies on the deleterious effects of smoking are funded by BigPharma and the anti-smoking lobbyists. that's not to say smoking is a healthy thing. it can cause lung cancer and heart disease. but i think many of the other ailments attributed to smoking are way, way overplayed. why is it, for example, that the japanese have a higher life expectancy than the usa but smoke way, way more? don't get me started on the second-hand smoke shit. that stuff just baffles my mind. so now we legislate etiquette? apparently so.
posted by brandz at 9:59 PM on July 23, 2005


why is it, for example, that the japanese have a higher life expectancy than the usa but smoke way, way more?

Perhaps because there are other factors besides smoking that affect life expectancy? Just a shot in the dark.
posted by rafter at 10:31 PM on July 23, 2005


I read every one of these (except that wierd one about paintbrushes) thinking "YEAH!". Yes, I'm one of those people who doesn't like to walk behind someone who's smoking and who will pass them to get out of their trail of smoke. And people who smoke at bus stops or light cigarettes just before exiting subway stations should be ticketd....who knows maybe if they start searching bags, the bag search guys can ticket people during the slow times!

It looks like they're giving out portable ashtrays. My mom had a couple when I was little (she didn't use them, she just had them), and I've been thinking a lot lately that there should be some sort of campaign to make their use common. It would take away the excuse some smokers use for littering that there were no ashtrays around so they have no choice but to litter. It would also absolve business of having to put out ashtrays on the sidewalk for their customers who go outside to smoke.
posted by duck at 1:54 PM on July 24, 2005


Tokyo has designated smoking stations throughout the city, which many, many people followed during my stay. Other areas of the city were designated "no smoking" areas. It was impressive that so many people followed these rules considering the amount of smokers in the city and the wonderful variety of cheap cigarettes available from the vending machines located everywhere.
posted by armacy at 9:52 AM on July 25, 2005


Nice post.

I like those UK warnings too. I was just spending time with my brother in law (from Wanstead, London, UK) and was always amused to see each day's tobacco warning.
posted by Dick Paris at 11:12 AM on July 25, 2005


spot on, rafter. i was beginning to think that smokers were actually the evil-doers.
posted by brandz at 9:02 PM on July 25, 2005


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