Non-smokers will be pleased to hear that prices of cigarettes are to rise from October 1st this month due to an increase in tax.
The average packet of twenty smokes, which now costs 300 yen will rise to between 400 and 440 yen, which is still much cheaper than the cost of tobacco products in other developed countries.
For long a smoker's paradise, smoking rates are coming down in Japan hit by the introduction of the TASPO identification card for cigarette vending machines and a previous price hike. The percentage of smokers is predicted to fall again after this latest price increase.
There is no plan in the pipe-line for a European-style blanket ban on smoking in bars and restaurants in Japan, a step which would be deeply unpopular with Japan's army of male salaried workers and the owners of hostess bars and snacks, but widely welcomed by everyone else.
Convenience stores and supermarkets are pushing sales cartons of 200 cigarettes at their check out counters in an attempt to clear old stock.