Smoking in Japan - A Unique Experience
Japan Cigarette Vending Machines
Cigarette machines are everywhere! Nowadays, you need to be a registered "smoker" to use the machines. You need to have a TASPO (http://www.taspo.jp/english/index.html) card to swipe the machine with before it will allow you to purchase a pack of cigarettes (must be 20 years old). I just noticed that the taspo website offers service in 6 languages!! Actually, at one time, Japan had facial recognition vending machines but I believe they were pulled when it was discovered that holding up a photo would pass the age check. I am guessing that was a selectively skipped quality assurance check! These vending machines are absolutely everywhere. They do turn off at eleven though (don't know what time they turn on though). I will try to upload some pics to show you!
Japan's Smoking Ban Outside Contrary to the USA & Canada, the ban on smoking started outside, not inside. Many of the 23 wards that forms Tokyo do not allow smoking outside. Many areas in Japan are taking similar steps. The fine though was/is still not very high; Yen 2,000 or so (about USD 24). As a tourist, my guest is you can probably get away not paying the fine. In Tokyo/Yokohama with over 30 million people, it is probably wise idea to ban smoking outside. I do remember a number of years taking the bus. At every bus stop there was literally an ash tray on fire and the smoke flow into the bus! Arrrg! I also remember walking on the crowed sidewalks only to get burnt by a walking smoker!
Will upload some non-smoking signs that are around Tokyo later.
Japan's Warning on Cigarette Boxes
There are minor warning signs on the boxes telling one not to "over smoke" whatever that means. There is talk about increasing the size of the warning sign and possibly even making it more explicit picture-wise! No where close to some of the cigerette box wanrings I have seen overseas. Let me find a box to translate - hahaha!