On June 7 a government panel in Japan advised against the placement of graphic images on packets of cigarettes, suggesting that they might be unnerving.
It’s worth noting that said panel was, according to an article in The Asahi Shimbun, Panel rejects graphic pics on cigarette packs, cites ‘discomfort’ (June 8, 2016), a subcommittee of the Fiscal System Council, itself an advisory body to the government’s finance minister. Perhaps it would be fair to say then that the bit about images on cigarette packets being unnerving could be finished off along the lines of, … so folks might stop buying em’.
Still, commenting on what was or wasn’t said in these advisory meetings would be pure speculation on our part, as we weren’t part of them (ridiculous, we know). We are, however, in Japan and feel it’s OK to speculate that many may see smoking as very prevalent in Japan. Where a number of countries that us expats hail from have taken pretty stringent measures to get people to stop smoking, Japan still seems comparatively relaxed about it. Yes, the number of non-smoking restaurants is on the increase, and an army of retirees now patrol the streets of urban Japan, ready to dish out fines to those who light up in inappropriate zones. But really, cigs can still be bought from vending machines, they only cost from 400 yen, public ashtrays abound, and, for most of us, the health warnings written on packets are illegible.
In light of this news and our ideas of Japan being bit of a smoker’s paradise, let’s see how the country ranks in tobacco consumption compared to others.
According to a World Health Organisation ‘Fact Sheet’ updated this month (June 2016), 80% of the 1 billion smokers in the world live in low- and middle-income countries. The same WHO also has some stats entitled ‘Prevalence of tobacco smoking’ where they break down the globe in terms of percentages of persons aged 15+ who smoke within given countries. Here we see that Japan fits into the bracket of those countries in the 30.0-39.9 percentage. The highest bracket covers those at 40+%.
OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) is a group of 34 countries with the mission of improving economic and social well-being of people around the world. For one of their health reports in 2015, they looked at similar statistics among member nations. Business Insider UK did a piece on the results entitled 22 wealthy nations that smoke the most. They ranked the countries thus (the % is that country's smoking rate):
The Tobacco Atlas has Japan as smoking between 1,500-1,999 cigarettes per year per person 15 yrs or over.
This is inline with data offered on Wikipedia which has Japan sitting at No. 22 in a list of countries ordered by the average number of cigarettes an adult individual smokes per year. The top 10 is dominated by countries from Eastern Europe with Montenegro, Belarus, Lebanon, Macedonia, and Russia (Yes, we know that Lebanon is not in Europe.). Samoa, Rwanda, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, and Guinea make up the bottom 5 of a list that covers 184 countries.
Of Japan’s neighbors. From the same list:
|Position||Country||Consumption per capita per year|
Any surprises here for you?
Back to those graphic images on cigarette packets in Japan. According the article in The Asahi Shimbun, one member of the advisory panel said of the graphic images as warnings, that they, “should be weighed only after the effect of such packaging abroad is fully examined.”
So, over to you. Do you think those graphic images we can see on cigarette packages in other parts of the world should be used in Japan, too? Smokers. Would it make any difference to your smoking habits here in Japan?