Japan, for decades a cigarette addict's paradise where it seemed everybody smoked, is now starting to kick the habit. While the government hasn't resorted to the kind of draconian bans that are common in North America and Europe, the tide of public opinion has made lighting up increasingly déclassé.
So much so that now, a backlash is developing, highlighted by the emergence of a pair of coffee shops in downtown Tokyo that cater to smokers who feel alienated and marginalized elsewhere. Café Tobacco's two locations give nicotine fiends their own “place where everybody knows your name,” or at least your habit, since they share it. They may be where lungs go to die, but for smokers who feel the eyes of their clear-breathing bretheren on them every time they light up in public, they are a place of refuge where one can stretch out and puff in peace. The Café serves your basic coffee shop menu, including a special strong coffee said to go well with cigarettes.
With a population of dedicated puffers, you'd think the interiors of the Café Tobaccos would be clouds of haze, but actually the atmosphere is clear. Powerful exhausts vent the air so that the only smoke you get in your lungs is your own.