# Japan

“Smoking in Japan is much less restricted than in many other nations, and Japan accounts for much of the tobacco consumption in Asia. Nearly 30 million people smoke in Japan, making the country one of the world’s largest tobacco markets.[1] Japan is one of the last industrialized nations in the world where adult smoking is still widespread; statistics show Japanese men smoke at one of the highest rates in the world.[2] The smoking rate among adults was 29% in 2008, 43% of men and 13% of women.[3] As of 2010, the total smoking rate is 24%, 36.6% of Japanese men and 12.1% of Japanese women;[4] this is the lowest recorded figure since Japan Tobacco began surveying in 1965.[4] The law prohibits the smoking of cigarettes by persons under the age of twenty.[5]

Smoking in Japan, Wikipedia

I was surprised when I read this, but then I remembered my basic thesis: the anti-smoking legislation is there to benefit the cigarette companies and Japan has it’s own non-USA, non-UK company so it will not invoke laws that benefdit them.

“Until 1985, the tobacco industry was a government-run monopoly; the government of Japan is still involved in tobacco advertising and etiquette campaigns, and the Ministry of Finance controls 50.2 percent ofJapan Tobacco.[3] It is the world’s third biggest tobacco company, turning over a profit of nearly $3 billion a year.[3]

The Diet of Japan has many MPs who have interests in the tobacco industry and thus tobacco control legislation is uncommon.[3]

Smoking in Japan, Wikipedia

Aha! just as I thought. But just wait untill Japan has to approach the IMF for a loan then things will change just like they changed in Turkey! (Read how the Japan Tobacco’s bid to buy TEKEL, the Turkish tobacco monopoly was blocked in favour of BAT buying it a few years later.)

Japan has one more interesting lesson for us.

Look at the decline in smoking in this country with fewer restrictions than other:

Japan Smokers-as-a-percentage-of-adult-pop click to enlarge

Whereas the US increased between 2007 and 2009 (economic woes?) the incidence in Japan continued to decline.

Lesson: the decline in the incidence of smoking might not have anything to do with the anti-smoking lobby, but more to do with life-style changes involving healthier living.

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