I went to the Japan Tobacco (JT) site to grab images of the new spring “smoking manners” posters (there’s a really crazy one I saw yesterday), but I could only find the winter series. Japan’s consumer culture is probably the most season-sensitive in the world. Right now, we’re in the midst of a billion pop songs about hanami and sakura, and in December, there will be another million Christmas-themed jingle-bell ballads.
These JT ads go one step further than just winter-related smoking habits (you wouldn’t kill your child’s snowman, would you?!) and also promote commerce as part of their message. Don’t smoke and go skiing! Don’t smoke and visit tourist destinations!
Until recently, I had been very skeptical about Japan’s anti-smoking policies, seeing that the government profited directly from its tobacco monopoly for a long time and that many Japanese still doubt the direct cause-and-effect relationship between tobacco and cancer. However, in the last year I’ve been surprised how many restaurants and chain cafes are erecting clear plastic dividers between the non-smoking and smoking sections. This is a real positive development.