In response to increasing restrictions on smoking, Japan’s largest cigarette manufacturer has released what it claims is the world’s first smoke-free cigarette. Japan Tobacco Inc. started selling its Zerostyle Mint this week and the company hopes that it will catch on among people who want to smoke but do not want to bother others with second-hand fumes. The product resembles a regular cigarette but contains a replaceable cartridge that holds ground tobacco leaves. Through the tapered mouthpiece, the user inhales the taste of the tobacco, plus the mint flavoring, the company said. The cigarette emits no smoke.
“While the majority of consumers in Japan are smoking cigarettes, demand is increasing for tobacco products designed to be used in places where consideration needs to be given to those nearby,” the company said in a statement.
A study by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare last November showed that the smoking rate among men has fallen to 36.8 per cent – the lowest level since such surveys were started in 1986 – while the figure for women came to 9.1 per cent, below the 10 per cent threshold for the first time since 2001.
Those figures are expected to continue to decline as smoking becomes increasingly viewed as an anti-social habit. The ministry issued an instruction to prefectural governments across the country in February calling for greater efforts to introduce total bans on smoking in public places.
The areas identified included restaurants, hotels, train stations, hospitals, museums and department stores.
Hiroshi Kimura, president of Japan Tobacco told reporters at the time that he hoped laws could be passed to provide smoking areas for anyone who still chose to smoke but did not want to affect others.