Sunday, March 29, 2009

Thank you for smoking

Late to the party as ever, but I thought that those involved in the "climate debate" might find this film amusing. We saw it yesterday, having just recently worked out how to use the USA iTunes store. (As well as being more expensive, the UK store has a much poorer selection of rental videos.)

Talking of smoking, there is some rather encouraging legislation coming into effect next year here (in Kanawaga prefecture, it is not national). Smoking in public buildings (which includes things like restaurants and hotels as well as schools and hospitals) is going to be restricted, with all facilities above a certain size being obliged to introduce no-smoking areas. As seems usual here, the legislation itself is actually rather toothless (penalties are feeble and there are many exemptions), but it may be that public opinion will encourage a level of compliance that goes some way beyond the strict letter of the law. It is at least a step in the right direction. Kamakura itself seems to have some new no-smoking signs up in the middle of town that come into effect on April 1. Yokohama has recently gone no-smoking in the streets around the station, and here is a "smoking area" shelter, complete with cheesy slogans on posters.

Also, JR East (the train company that dominates the network here) is going completely no smoking in all stations in the Tokyo area - up to now there have been some smoking areas which, although towards the end of the platforms, are often close enough to where we are sitting to be annoying.

So perhaps it's not revolutionary, but it is definitely evolutionary. It's been quite remarkable to observe how quickly things have changed here - a poky smoky cafe or restaurant was pretty much par for the course when we arrived, but now it's quite rare for us to actually be annoyed by smokers.

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