Smokers find new haven in Japan, but for a price

Formerly the Japanese could smoke freely in workplaces, restaurants, bars, on the street, and even at any place. The low price of cigarettes and the ever-present vending machines made Japan as a paradise for tobacco lovers. However, nowadays it is getting tougher to be a smoker in Japan.

Smoking Japanese

Japanese woman holding a cigarette

For the some time past, smoking of any tobacco products has been prohibited on the streets and in offices, the taxes on tobacco and tobacco products have been increased, and more and more public areas are going tobacco-free. The government even informed recently that a 10-year plan will be launched to cut the smoking rate about in half.

While this plan has threatened some tobacco companies as it can decline their income, one company has used this opportunity to turn it into business. Ippuku (roughly “a cig” in Japanese) suggests to smoking people to puff away 15 minutes in a comfortable, indoor place for just 50 yen.

In accordance with parent company General Holdings, Ippuku was based on the philosophy that smoking and non-smoking people should have a possibility to enjoy the neighborhoods where they live and work. Ippuku suggests that a specially designed paid smoking zone might contribute to that. The company distributed a questionnaire concerning smoking habits and revealed that there were not so many places where smokers could relax and smoke 15 minutes while they got their fix, so they distributed to create some.

From the very beginning of July, 3 Ippuku branches will be open in Tokyo near Ochanomizu, Jimbocho and Kanda Stations. General Holdings intends to open a whole of 36 shops covering all 23 wards of Tokyo by the end of 2015. The shops will be open from 6am to midnight on a daily basis. There will be ventilation fans, aroma diffusers, free internet access, drink vending machines, background music, and TV, among other features. Along with the one-time rate of 50 yen, smokers will have a possibility to choose from day (100 yen), week (500 yen) and month (1800 yen) passes.

The company says that they have tried to create a comfortable place for their customers so that “even if they have to pay, people will choose Ippuku.”

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