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Japan, India: mobile smoking vans
  1. David Simpson

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    Japan Tobacco (JT) has launched mobile trailers called Smocars for smokers to smoke in even when it is not allowed in public places. Based on the classic Airstream holiday caravan from the USA, Smocars have been spotted at locations throughout Japan over the past year. JT says it has developed them as part of its initiative for “increased co-existence between smokers and non-smokers in public spaces”. At last winter’s Sapporo Snow Festival, where the Smocar was just one part of a large JT presence, children taken into the car were given free soft drinks. More usually, Smocar is parked in areas such as Tokyo’s Chiyoda ward, which has an unusually tough ban on smoking in public places. In a letter about the vehicles to the British Medical Journal, Professor Hiroshi Kawane from the Japanese Red Cross Hiroshima College of Nursing shrewdly observed, “I think second-hand smoke combined with exhaust fumes from SmoCar has become a health hazard for non-smokers in the vicinity of the car”.

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    A mobile smoking van, Smocar, providing a place for smokers in Japan to smoke. Children are also allowed into the van, and given soft drinks.

    Meanwhile, something similar has appeared in India. Godfrey Phillips, Indian subsidiary of Philip Morris, launched a similar mobile smoking lounge in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), which was parked at various landmark sites for a few days each, followed by appearances in Ahmedabad, Delhi, and Baroda. While apparently more inspired by function than the stylish design of the Smocar, they are scheduled to be taken to several southern Indian cities over the next few months. The vehicles display statutory health warnings and smokers are allowed to use them for 15–20 minutes. Entry is free and people using them can smoke their own cigarettes or buy them inside the van, along with soft drinks.