Sunday, October 31, 2010

Two Cigarette Brands Are Selling Well in Japan

I just came back from a late night run to the convenience store where I was surprised to see, for the first time in my entire time in Japan, convenience stores selling what people consider to be "B-grade" Japanese cigarettes. It is quite unusual to see these low-end cigarettes at a convenience store.

I wrote before about how the Japanese government insanely raised taxes on cigarettes here. Now, the news is coming out that people have seriously curtailed their smoking and it has hurt government tax coiffures as well as the tobacco industry... Well, duh!

Wakaba cigarettes... Notice the cool and trendy design! 
¥220 (about $2.50 USD) for twenty 18 mg. cigarettes 

It used to be that convenience stores, due to lack of space, only sold the premium brands of cigarettes; Seven Star, Marlboro, Camel, Lark, Lucky Strike, etc... (Japanese cigarette, High-Lite, was considered low-end)... But now since a pack of premium cigarettes costs about ¥420 a pack or more (about $5.00 USD), it seems that sales of the low-grade tobaccos are soaring. Low-grade tobaccos sell for about half what premium brands sell for - between ¥220 ~ ¥250 a pack ($2.50 ~ $3.00)!

The guy at the convenience store told me that Wakaba cigarettes, especially, are enjoying brisk sales!

Wakaba is a very old brand in Japan and is definitely not considered cool by the younger people (I think it is very cool!)... The other brand the store clerk said was selling well was the other brand that is considered very low-class and only smoked by nearly homeless old men; Golden Bat.

Both Wakaba and Golden Bat are strong cigarettes at 18 & 21 mg. But as my Japanese friend says about people who smokes one mg. cigs, "Are you going to smoke cigarettes or not smoke cigarettes?" 

Both these brands are not trendy at all and have the image of depression era Japan...

Good thing, maybe their time has come again!

Hooray for the folks that elect to buy the cheaper stuff. If everyone did the same, the other cigarettes would have to lower their prices!

Here's a Golden Bat TV commercial from about 10 ~ 15 years ago:

Wakaba is too low grade to have ever had a TV commercial as far as I know.

Hell, and, come to think of it... The older stuff is always better anyway, right? And if these two are not cool, then I don't know what is!


Ira Hata said...

What happened to boycotting cigarettes altogether, Mike? Remember your blog about not paying taxes to support the government?


mike in tokyo rogers said...

Hell yeah! I don't smoke anymore because I refuse to pay taxes. My point is that the government raised taxes and that smokers are finding a way to circumvent them by buying cheaper cigarettes.... Which makes government tax revenues go down.

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