Recently Roger Pulvers wrote a piece criticizing JT saying that smoking does not cause cancer, followed by a rebuttal by JT claiming that it never said any such thing. Hideyuki Yamamoto of JT lled. In fact, the very same person quoted recently by Pulvers, a Toshimasa Kurita, said it in 2007, in this piece by Al Jazeera (Pulvers’ article and the JT rebuttal afre below this):
| By Tony Birtley in Tokyo |
Two Japanese men suffering from cancer are suing government-owned Japan Tobacco, saying cigarettes are to blame.
It is a battle which has been played out in court rooms around the world, often resulting in massive payouts by tobacco companies – but in Japan things are different.
There are few anti-smoking laws, many politicians have interests in Japan Tobacco, and the company insists cigarettes do not cause cancer.
Koreyoshi Takahashi contracted lung cancer after 20 years of heavy smoking, and has had one lung removed.
Masanobu Mizuno has emphysema and is slowly dying.
Both men say cigarette smoking is to blame and are suing Japan Tobacco for $100,000.
When the men began their case there were three of them, but one died of cancer in December.
“If the public really knew what smoking does to you they will start to move against it,” says Takahashi. “They would be astonished if they knew of the danger.”
Cheap and easy
Nearly 30 million people smoke in Japan, 43 per cent of all men and 13 per cent of women.
But unlike the West where smoking is widely banned in restaurants, bars and public areas, in Japan smoking is cheap and you can do it almost anywhere.
Chiyoda ward in central Tokyo is one of the few place to have an anti smoking patrol.
Here smoking on the streets can get you a $20 fine. But the rules do not apply to the entire ward and it is hardly enforced anywhere else in the city.
Professor Manabu Sakuta of the Japan anti-smoking lobby, says the health ministry “should make regulations to prohibit smoking”.
“But they are instead focusing on Japanese who are getting fatter instead of concentrating on smoking.”
Japan’s finance ministry refused to comment on smoking in Japan or the government involvement.
The ministry controls 50.2 per cent of Japan Tobacco, the world’s third biggest tobacco company, turning over a profit of nearly $3 bn a year.
The anti-smoking lobby says the Japanese parliament is filled with MPs who have interests in the tobacco industry and that is why nothing is done.
Sakuta says implementing a national law against smoking is vital, “but with 300 MPs out of 500 with interests in the tobacco industry, it is impossible”.
Toshimasa Kurita, Head of the Social Environment Creation Division at Japan Tobacco says the company is simply meeting a demand.
“We don’t believe smoking causes cancer,” he says.
“Cancer is caused by various risk factors. Smoking is one risk factor. There is also dietary conditions and hereditary conditions as well. So if one chooses to smoke we as a manufacturer provide services to our customers”.
– – – – – – – article ends——-
About JT, read the Pulver article, then the rebuttal by the Media and Public Relations guy. And then go back and read the above. JT kills. Then they lie about it. At the same time, they are expanding to markets in other countries to hook people there as people in Japan wake up.
Reality check, 2010: ‘Smoking doesn’t cause cancer’ (Japan Tobacco)
Every generation has its theme song.
I was contemplating this quaint truism when trying to pinpoint a tune that would neatly sum up the mores of the men and women who grew to adulthood in Japan between 1960 and 1985, the era of rapid and spectacular economic expansion.
Was it 1961’s jolly “Sukiyaki Song,” with its uplifting lyric, “Let’s walk with our eyes to the sky?” Or, conversely, could it be the sorrowful lament of Hibari Misora’s 1966 hit, “Kanashii Sake” (“Sad Sake”): “Drinking all alone in a bar / I can taste the tears of parting?”
Actually, it was “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” the 1933 American hit by Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach, that came to mind under the clear skies of Golden Week.
And not only in your eyes, but also in your nose, mouth and all over your clothing. This association of Japan with smoking rose up like a toxic cloud before my eyes thanks to something that happened this month far away from Japan, in Australia.
But first, why “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”?
I am often asked about my first impression upon arriving in Japan in 1967. It is, hands down, cigarette smoke wherever you went. Mind you, the developed countries of the West could not take much of a healthier-than-thou attitude on that, since the consciousness there regarding the dangers to public health posed by tobacco was only in its formative stage at the time. I had spent the earlier part of 1967 in France, a country whose intellectuals identified much more profoundly with their Gauloises cigarettes than they did with de Gaulle, their leader.
Just look at the smoking rates for Japan, a place with no restrictions on where people could puff away. For Japanese males: 1965, 82 percent; 1976, 75 percent; 1980, 70 percent; 1985, 65 percent. The corresponding percentages for the United States, where, from the mid-’60s, the anti-smoking campaign began to take hold: 52, 41, 37, 33.
People in Japan generally lit up without asking those around if it might bother them. In addition, I cannot recall a single public place — be it a restaurant, business office or university common room — where it was possible to escape the effects of passive smoking. In the good old days, we were all smokers.
The anti-smoking campaign here started to pick up steam, if you will, in the 1980s. Japan Tobacco was, until 1985, a state-owned and state-controlled monopoly, with profits flowing into government coffers. When the tide finally started to turn in Japan, as well, in favor of restrictions — such as warnings on cigarette packets — the government opted for the ultra-mild: “For our health, let’s try not to smoke too much.”
The tobacco industry, newly privatized (in 1985), sought to smarten their game and polish their image with some catchy slogans. Two that spring to mind sound as ludicrous to our ear today as they did then. “Always Keep an Ashtray in Your Heart” . . . or, my absolute favorite, a classic of the adman’s art . . . “The Ashtray is Sunday for Your Heart.”
As for me, working in Tokyo during the heady 1980s, passive smoke affected not only my lungs but my wallet as well. Whenever I got home, my wife would make me strip and leave my clothes, reeking of smoke, at the door. Not only was this tricky when there were guests in the living room, but it also added tens of thousands of yen to the dry-cleaning bill.
So why Australia all of a sudden?
Well, two weeks ago, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced an increase of between A$2 and A$3 in the price of a standard pack of 25 cigarettes — effective immediately — so taking the cost up to approximately A$15 (about ¥1,200), which is more than three times the cost in Japan. Estimates are that this price hike will cut the smoking rate by 2 to 3 percent, and will generate an extra A$5 billion in government revenue — all of which is earmarked to fund health and hospital initiatives.
But an even more startling announcement by Mr. Rudd inaugurates a world’s-first policy.
From Jan. 1, 2012, all brands will be sold in plain brown boxes with photos of cigarette damage to health and bold-face warnings on the front. Brand names will appear colorless in an identical font style and size at the bottom. This policy sounds the death knell for the stylish identifications made by advertisers — that Marlboro men are all John Waynes in disguise and Virginia Slims girls are snakelike Kate Mosses just waiting to shed. The government wants to cut the smoking rate — now 26.5 percent for men and 20 percent for women — to an overall 10 percent by 2018.
As for Japan Tobacco Inc., now known as JT for short, the company accounts for two-thirds of all cigarettes sold in Japan, contributing the equivalent of more than $3 billion to the government, which still owns a controlling share in the company. And although the smoking rate among Japanese males has now dropped to 43 percent, it still represents a huge number of addicted consumers.
JT’s ad mavens are older and shrewder. Their advertising is greener than green, both in color and conceptual design. They are now emphasizing the manners surrounding smoking, both personal and public. This has two effects. It encourages smokers to be mindful of the comfort and rights of non-smokers. But more crucial for the tobacco industry, it gives smokers the impression that they have a choice of whether to smoke or not, thereby refuting the fact that tobacco is a highly addictive drug that, according to the United Nation’s health agency, the World Health Organization, will account for 50 percent of the deaths of young people who take up the habit now.
JT’s self-stated mission purports to emphasize “the diversity of societies and individuals.” This is code for creating ads that target small groups of people, categorized by gender, age, ethnic bonds, etc. It is an advertising campaign that covers the wolf of profit in the soft fleece of consideration.
Certainly, public habits are changing in this country, with more and more locations becoming smoke free. But such regulations are not the biggest threat to the tobacco industry. That would come from a simple price rise. Surveys show that approximately half of Japanese smokers say they would try to quit if the price of a pack went to ¥500 or more.
JT is feeling the pinch of progress. Even though protected by their masters in government, they are on the defensive.
“Our customers are beginning to feel marginalized,” says Toshimasa Kurita, head of the Environment Creation Division of JT.
But Kurita has also claimed — and I think it appropriate to give him the final word on the tenets of morality, and the statistics of mortality, linked to tobacco — “We don’t believe smoking causes cancer.”
THE DENIAL FROM JAPAN TOBACCO
Japan Tobacco working to cut risks
I would like to point out that Roger Pulvers’ May 16 Counterpoint article, “Reality check, 2010: ‘Smoking doesn’t cause cancer’ (Japan Tobacco),” misquotes Japan Tobacco as stating “we don’t believe smoking causes cancer.” We are disappointed to learn that The Japan Times ran an article with an inaccurate headline and content in direct reference to Japan Tobacco.
Public authorities have determined that smoking causes or is an important risk factor in a number of diseases. Japan Tobacco supports efforts to advise smokers accordingly. We are of the opinion that no one should smoke without knowledge about the risks of smoking.
As a matter of fact, we are endeavoring to reduce the risks of smoking. While we do not believe that smoking risks can be completely eliminated, there are ways in which we may be able to reduce the risks. We are committed to developing cigarettes that have the potential to reduce the risks. I would like to add that these points are openly shared in the public domain including on our Web site.
Japan Tobacco kills people. My mother was killed by tobacco. I hope Japan Tobacco goes out of business before they kill more people.
Here is a site in Japanese and English that is part of the anti-smoling movement in Japan.