Japan’s nonsmokers hit back against “smoking etiquette”, suggesting the best etiquette would be to quit once and for all.

In Japan, where cigarettes are cheap, ubiquitous and easily obtained, smoking has until recently been widely accepted as “something adults do”. While far fewer women smoke than men, women’s romance media often features “cool” smoking guys, with kisses described as being “tobacco-flavoured”.

Cigarettes haven’t held too much of a negative image in the country…until now. With more and more no-smoking bars popping up in the nation’s capital, and with the government’s upcoming plan to introduce a wide-spread smoking ban covering all public places, the tide of popular opinion is rapidly turning against smokers and the inconvenience their habit causes to others.

Aware of the increasing lack of tolerance towards secondhand smoke, many would-be-polite Japanese smokers have taken to checking with others around them before lighting up. But even that can be problematic. One recent tweet on the subject sparked discussion as to exactly how much asking “Do you mind if I smoke?” really shows consideration towards others.

“Many times when I’ve been asked ‘Do you mind if I smoke?’, I reply with ‘It makes me feel sick, so please don’t’, but then I get responses like ‘I’ll blow the smoke away from you’ or ‘I’ll just smoke one’ and then they do it anyway. It’s not like they’re showing consideration at all, but just paying lip service by asking. They don’t care at all even if it bothers me.”

“Since they clearly have no interest in the feelings of nonsmokers from the start, they should go ahead and smoke anyway without even asking. I’d prefer that a thousand times over.”

“It does take bravery on my part to say no, you know? But if there are smokers who feel bad enough at inconveniencing nonsmokers to ask if it’s okay first, then surely they care enough to refrain from smoking for just the two or so hours a drinking party takes. It seems addiction wins out over care for others every time. That’s what I’ve learned.”

In response to the set of tweets, a previously inconsiderate smoker spoke up to offer apologies for their habit.

“As an ex-smoker, I feel so full of remorse. All I can do is apologize to the nonsmoking friends I have who I used to force into sitting in the smoking sections or smoking areas with me!”

Another spoke up to offer a more pleasant anecdote about a similar situation:

“I too have said no when asked if it was all right to smoke near me. In that case, the smoker in question didn’t smoke a single cigarette the entire time. Even though they were clearly a heavy smoker. I think those smokers who refrain from smoking when they get a “no” are cool and impressive. Even amongst smokers there are wonderful people to be found.”

Finally, another person pointed out that asking for permission can often be pointless, as many of those who secretly want to say “No” end up saying “It’s all right…” out of social obligation.

“I sometimes hear that it’s considered ‘smoking etiquette’ for smokers to ask those around them if it’s all right if they smoke during meals at restaurants. But I think that many of those who say ‘It’s fine’ are secretly thinking ‘There’s no way that would be fine!’ internally. So what part of this little charade is good etiquette for anyone? There’s definitely that doubt there.”

While many small businesses are vehemently opposed to the proposed smoking ban due to perceived customer losses, we’re starting to wonder if, as in other countries which have already adopted such bans, there will be little difference. For every smoking customer staying at home in order to smoke, there must be another non-smoking one who, until now, has either stayed out of public spaces like bars and restaurants altogether or left early as a result of second-hand smoke. The results will be interesting to see.

Source: Twitter via Huffington Post.co.jp
Feature Image: PAKUTASO