(Duncan Bartlett, for JAPAN Forward)

There’s never been a better time to give up cigarettes.

I gave up smoking about eight years ago, and I often encourage other people to quit, too.

On April 1, Japan started enforcing new laws which prevent smoking in many public places. I welcome the legislation, even though it is limited in scope.

New no-smoking signs in Tokyo | © JAPAN Forward

I know some people will try to get around the law by seeking out small bars and restaurants which continue to allow smoking. Or they may smoke out on the street or squeeze into segregated smoking rooms. To my mind, such behavior leaves them in a dangerous trap.

Here’s why I think every smoker in Japan should now end their relationship with tobacco, for good.

Smokers are More Likely to Die of Coronavirus

I admit the evidence on this is not yet definitive, but a number of scientific papers are circulating which suggest that if smokers become infected with COVID-19, they are more likely to succumb to serious, even life-threatening, symptoms.

For example, The New England Journal of Medicine recently carried out a large-scale study on COVID-19 patients in China. It found that smokers were around three times more likely to end up in intensive care unit wards, or require assisted breathing apparatus.

In the United Kingdom, the government’s chief medical adviser, Professor Chris Whitty, has said now would be a “very good moment” for people to quit smoking because it leads to “an additional vulnerability” in terms of coronavirus.

Smoking indoors was banned in the U.K. 12 years ago, but in Japan many people still use smoking rooms. These are among the very worst places to go if you want to avoid the coronavirus. How can you keep distance from people in a sealed, enclosed space? And because smokers are exhaling and inhaling, there’s a great risk that water particles which carry the virus will pass between them.

You Will Have More Chance for Romance

Have you noticed that a lot more men smoke in Japan than women? According to a survey by Japan Tobacco on Nippon.com, the percentage of male and female smokers in 2017 was, respectively, 28.2% and 9.0%. It’s a similar ratio in China and South Korea. And in North Korea around 45% of men are reported to smoke daily, while almost no women do!

There is a widely held view in Asia that women should protect their bodies so that they give birth to healthy children, and that’s a good principle to maintain at a time when Japan’s birth rate is falling.

Although many Japanese women may appear to tolerate their partner’s smoking, this is less true of the younger generation, who definitely don’t want their boyfriends to smoke. That leaves male smokers in a minority, facing discrimination.

They could complain about this and try to convince women to be more tolerant. Or they could raise their game romantically by quitting.

You’ll Save A Lot of Money


By - Ben K.