New smokeless cigarettes on sale in Tokyo

Japan Tobacco, Inc., began selling a new kind of cigarette that doesn’t release smoke on Monday, but reactions from Japan’s major Zero Style Mintairline companies and Japan Railways on the new cigarette’s use in public transportation are mixed.

The new cigarette, being sold as “Zero Style Mint,” uses cartridges, each containing tobacco leaves, which are set inside the cigarette and smoked. A pack with two cartridges sells for 300 yen. Currently, the cigarettes are only being sold in Tokyo, but based on how well they sell, they may become available in the rest of the country.

“They’re selling well. Some people have bought several packs at once, and they look like they’ll sell out before the day is done. Since it was first announced they were on sale, there’s also been lots of customers asking about them,” said one employee at a Tokyo cigarette store.

Whether the new cigarettes are usable in public, however, is another question.

A spokesperson from Japan Airlines said, “We have no complaint with customers using smokeless cigarettes, including on international flights.”

All Nippon Airways, however, is taking the opposite stance. Its spokesperson said, “Smokeless cigarettes cannot be smoked onboard flights. Even if they’re smokeless, they’re still cigarettes.”

East Japan Railway Co.’s stance was expressed as, “At this time, we have no particular intention of forbidding smokeless cigarettes.”

Central Japan Railway Co. similarly expressed acceptance of the cigarettes, with its spokesperson saying, “We don’t consider them as subject to our no-smoking policy. However, our staff may interfere if necessary to prevent the discomfort of other passengers.”

Spokespeople from West Japan Railway Co., said that their policy is not yet decided, and there is a possibility that they will not allow use of the cigarettes on their trains.

Among prefectural and local governments, an inclination toward acceptance of the smokeless cigarettes is apparent.

In Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward, a local ordinance forbids smoking on any public roads or sidewalks, but a ward official said, “Currently, the smokeless cigarettes are not subject to the no-smoking ordinance. There’s not even a danger of burning others with a flame.”

One man who bought some smokeless cigarettes in the ward was happy with the new cigarettes: “In the past, I’ve had to pay a fine for smoking in public, but with these I don’t have to worry.”

Even Kanagawa Prefecture, which in April began enforcing the country’s first local anti-secondary smoke ordinance for indoor facilities such as restaurants, says that the smokeless cigarettes will be allowed. While those smoking normal cigarettes in non-smoking areas will be fined 2,000 yen, people using smokeless cigarettes will be left alone.

However, the prefecture’s real goal is the reduction of tobacco use. “Even if the cigarettes are smokeless, they’re still bad for the health. I hope that people will stop smoking altogether,” said the head of the prefecture’s anti-smoking policy group.
Mainichi, May 18, 2010

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