I started smoking in Japan as a 22-year-old teacher. Doing otherwise at that time, in that country, would have marked me out as an oddball. [...] There are estimated to be 500,000 cigarette vending machines in Japan – and, while Starbucks won't tolerate it, until recently you could still smoke to your lungs' discontent at McDonald's and KFC.
On the bullet train from Kyoto to Tokyo, a fellow overseas teacher and I once got through a packet each during the 140-minute ride. My smoking habit continued apace and unabated for the following 15 years [...]