Smoking in Japan   日本で吸う

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Smoking areas are always clearly marked, so there's no excuse not to use them.

Cigarette vending machines require a TASPO card to use.

This sign reminds smokers to never throw their cigarette butts into the street.

What are the rules?

After a long flight, you have only one desire: to get out and smoke your cigarettes. But you're unsure of whether you will get told off... Indeed, there are rules about smoking that you should follow when in Japan!

Use a designated smoking area

The Japanese attitude towards smoking is linked to its civic habits and sanitation. There are no major laws regulating smoking, and the rules change depending on the city. It will be less strict in Kyoto than Osaka, for example.

But in general, smoking is prohibited in public places except in designated smoking areas that are clearly marked. These areas are easily identifiable, and are sometimes a closed room.

The good news is that you won't suffer from passive smoking. If you light a cigarette outside one of the designated areas, you will be asked to put it out (and likely fined). Of course, never throw your cigarette butt on the ground. Use an ashtray, and if there isn't one, you can often find pocket ashtrays in 100 yen shops.

If you cannot find a smoking area, you can visit a cafe or restaurant. They are private spaces, thus free to designate smoking areas. You will often find designated smoking rooms. There are also some cafes entirely dedicated to smokers, but they are rare. Only 20% of Japanese people smoke on a regular basis.

Similarly, unless explicitly stated, hotel rooms are non-smoking.

Cigarette counters

Paradoxically, cigarettes can easily be bought from stores. Under 20s are prohibited from smoking, yet cigarettes are found in every supermarket, and even vending machines! To use them, you will however need to obtain the TASPO card that exists to verify your age.

Most brands sold are Japanese, even if you can also find some well known American brands. Prices will range from 430 to 460 yen per package.

If you roll your own cigarettes, remember to bring your own refills. This practice is almost unknown in Japan, and you will not find it. Its use could lead to confusion and problems. Also if you cannot express yourself in Japanese, it is best to observe the same rules as cigarette smokers there.

If the simple rules of civility and cleanliness are met, smoking in Japan should not be that difficult.

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