Japan Tobacco's Cheerfully Chiding 'Smoking Manners for Adults' Ads, Part 2

Japan Tobacco (JT for short) has had a tough time lately - one of their subsidiaries is the company distributing those frozen, made-in-China dumplings that poisoned over a hundred people in Japan recently. JT's core tobacco biz is coming under some heat as well from health crusaders, children's advocates and non-smokers rights organizations. At least their cigarettes aren't making anyone sick... well, not intentionally at least.

Now I'm a non-smoker but I do believe smokers have rights, as long as they don't conflict with those of others. So does Japan Tobacco. In commissioning this series of over 70 public service announcement style ads (see 1 through 10 here), JT seeks to uphold its customers' rights while giving a nod to the needs of Japanese society as a whole. Did they succeed? Ads 11 through 20, presented here in a spirit of bemusement and accompanied by commentary by yours truly, tell the tobacconated tale...


11) "A portable ashtray is not a license to smoke anywhere you please."

It isn't?? But wouldn't that defeat the whole raison d'être of portable ashtrays? Where else would smokers tap their ashes before chucking the butt into the nearest street/lawn/garden/anywhere? Now if only those ashtrays were equipped with integral vacuum air purifiers, all would be well. C'mon Japan, if Ronco can do it, so can you!


12) "Inhaled. Burned. Thrown away. If it were anything but a cigarette, it would surely be crying."

Could this be the world's first Emo cigarette ad? I really feel for that poor, discarded cigarette butt; left behind, all bent & broken, nothing left but to decay into dust like windblown autumn leaves... hey, now I'm doing it! And tell me a chick, er, a woman didn't write this ad. Boy meets cig, boy uses cig for his own vile and selfish purposes, boy dumps cig like... well, like a used-up cig. Call it catharsis, lightly scented with menthol.


13) "Where does the smoke go? Only the person producing it is unconcerned."

Another zen-ish ad that evokes deep thought on the interdependence and interrelatedness of all mankind. And womankind. Childkind too. See how the noxious fumes of the uncaring SMOKER are carried hither and yon (yar?) upon the Winds of Neglect, spurring the growth of painful-looking spiky halos around the heads of nice people, the noble elderly and of course, a fearfully uncomprehending child. Only thing missing here was a dog, representing Dogkind, with a painful-looking spiky halo around its innocent and blameless head.


14) "It's scary to see a flaming object thrown from a car window."

You know, in Baghdad this ad would make sense. In Tokyo, not so much. At least in Japan the resulting conflagrations come in a range of sizes from S through XL. Does an extra-long cigarette create an extra-large fire? But I digress... is a tossed cigarette butt considered to be "a flaming object"? It is when Andy Dick's still smoking it (bada boom!).


15) "Posters saying 'Don't litter with cigarette butts' are like children scolding adults with paintbrushes."

Yeah, what he said!... OK, what DID he say??? I have puzzled over this ad, and puzzled some more, and frankly I'm all puzzled out. Paintbrushes? WTF?? All right, one last stab at it - children scolding adults with paintbrushes seems to be a ridiculous, meaningless thing to do. If so, the 'don't litter' posters are equally meaningless. It's up to the adult/smoker to KNOW not to litter and not be needing any damn fool sign to act as a reminder. Let's just leave it at that and move on, my head hurts.


16) "The cigarette butts are always more noticeable when I'm walking my dog."

Ah, that's better, an ad that I can figure out without risking a brain hemorrhage. Makes perfect sense - with your eyes watching your cute little "wan chan", you just can't help noticing the discarded debris left by Uncaring Smokers... you know who you are! Of course, it helps to have the super-powered vision of Ultraman, who also can pick out a tiny ant from 40-odd feet away.


17) "Some people throw trash in the street. Other people have to clean it up."

This ad is revealing on several levels. First off, Japan Tobacco wants to remind us that a single person who quits smoking causes another three to lose their jobs. Phillip Morris, you could learn a lot from these guys! Secondly, Japan's low unemployment rate can be explained by the need for 3 cleaners to dispose of each tossed cigarette butt. Thirdly, the butt tosser is labeled as a BAD SMOKER, perhaps because he only tossed one butt. If he tossed a half-dozen, the employment rate would shoot up half a point!


18) "Would you throw that cigarette butt on the ground if people were watching you?"

This somewhat spooky ad features a "sneaky" figure stealthily disposing of something - perhaps a body - at night, beneath the gaze of an owl. From this we learn that burying the evidence unseen is OK, but don't do it in public. All you murderers and smokers out there: look once, dig fast, drive away nonchalantly. Oh, and wear a British tweed cap as a disguise. Tally ho, guv'nor!


19) "As I was walking out from the non-smoking area, I lit a cigarette. The smoke flowed back inside."

Great ad - because it highlights a common problem with smoking areas. That is, a problem with too many smokers who use them. Here in Canada there are signs outside mall entrances that state "no smoking within 25 metres". Yeah right - clusters of puffers around the doors make a mockery of the signs. If you're inside the mall, you can find any exit with your eyes closed... just follow your nose. A few signs like these JT ads might cause them to think a little and be more considerate. And then I woke up.


20) "A man waiting on a girl, cigarette butts piled up around him. It was a common scene in dramas from the Showa era."

Japan's Showa era coincided with the reign of Emperor Hirohito, roughly 1925 through 1975. Baths were popular then as well. The figures on the ad reflect the fashion for wide-brimmed hats, flared pants, long skirts and short-legged dogs. Just like here, Japan was a smoker's paradise (also, as George Costanza put it, a "bald paradise"). Funny thing though, in all those black & white films where everyone smoked, you never saw the pile of butts. You never saw the sex either, but you knew they were having it. Hey, could any gal resist Bogie, with or without the stogie? Anyway, enough nostalgia - which happens to be the point of the ad.


Thus concludes set 11 through 20 of Japan Tobacco's "Smoking Manners for Adults" ads. If you think they ran out of ideas way back at ad 14, you must be smokin' the wrong kind of tobacco. Stay tuned to this site to find out! (via Conbinibento)

Steve Levenstein
Japanese Innovations Writer

Feb 8, 2008
by Vester (not verified)

Very interesting concept as

Very interesting concept as to the different ways smoking pollution affects our world.

Dec 5, 2008
by Anonymous

Well, I was very

Well, I was very amused!
Thanks for sharing these with the internet.
(Though you might want to check your grammar/spelling a bit (ex: "wear" not "were.))
Also, in American films from what would be the Showa Era, you DO see the pile of butts! Usually it is a shot of the man smoking one cig, then it pans to the ashtray to indicate that a lot of time has passed.