An Anti-smoking Sign in Shibuya


What: A sign that ambiguously tells smokers to not litter their used cigarette butts.

Where: A street in Ebisu, and increasingly similar advertisements on the subway.

The striking thing about this sign is the wording that is so ambiguous that contrasts heavily with the kind of over-simplified diagram on the bottom. However, the reason I’m focusing so much on smoking is because it’s one of the most prevalent types of signs, either signs that say you cannot walk and smoke on the street, or smoke at the street at all if you’re in Minato-ku, for example. The arguments presented by these series of green and white anti-smoking signs  are generally as follows: smoking leads to littering, and it’s bad for the health of the people around you, and a lit cigarette can burn people or their clothes if they’re near you. There is a hypocrisy in the Japanese attitude toward smoking: for all the media campaigns and signs, the Japanese government has not yet decided to raise the price of cigarettes to be comparable to say, the United States to fiscally punish smokers. For a city that’s trying to go completely smoke free by 2020, Tokyo has a lot of making up to do as, unlike most other countries, smoking is still allowed in bars, clubs, and izakaya. Where does this relationship with smoking come from?

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