March 13, 2015
Smoking was brought to Japan in the 16th century by Portuguese mariners. Back many years ago itinerant monks on pilgrimages transported tobacco seeds in order to pay for food and lodging. These days, it is viewed as a social habit; many Japanese declare they smoke mostly when they spend time with their friends. While waiting for the bus, staying in subways, theaters, people smoke everywhere in Japan. They smoke in restaurants and taxis and often even train platforms in spite of the signs that inform them they are not required to. Cigarette vending machines are found on practically every corner; non-smoking places in restaurants are still novelties.
There are numerous cigarette users in Japan. About 350 billion cigarettes are smoked annually. Per capita cigarette usage is about 2770 cigarette per year, in comparison to 2,350 in the United States, 1,791 in China and 2,058 in France. Nevertheless, smoking is declining. The smoking rate in Japan reached an all-time low of 19.5 % in 2010, lower approximately by 3.9 % from the preceding year as outlined by Japan’s health ministry.
The average smoking age in Japan is 20. Cigarettes used to be sold for about $3.20 per package, among the lowest price in the world. At this point, a package is available for about $4.70. As to cigarette taxes they are also among the smallest. Present profits from tobacco in Japan are about ¥2.3 trillion.
The smoking rate for men constituted 36.6 % in 2013, about 2.3 percentage points lesser than in prior year, yet far above the 24 % smoking rate among men registered in the United States. For male and female smokers they rate has been 23.9 %, 1% lower than the previous year, and 15th consecutive year in which a decrease was achieved. Far more men light up in Japan than in any other developed country however, their numbers are dropping. For instance, in 2005, the number of men who lighted up dropped by 40 % for the first time. The same year 11.3 % women stated they smoked. Smoking is raising among young women. The largest rate of female smokers, 21.5 %, is among women in their 20s.
Smoking rates differ from region to region. For example, in Osaka, 42.6 % of men and 11.1 % of women light up. In Tokyo, 31.1 % of men and 9.6 % of women light up. In one study 61 % of smokers confessed they were nicotine addicts. It is a well-known fact that Japanese travel agencies sponsor trips for smokers in which travelers fly on flight companies that permit smoking (Malaysia Airlines and Alitalia), stay in hotels, and eat in restaurants that feature tolerant smoking policies.