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Japan To Offer Tour for Smokers

July 4, 1999

TOKYO (BC) _ A travel agency wants to make sure its customers who smoke can puff away happily while vacationing overseas.

Starting in September, Tokyo-based Nikko Travel will offer overseas tours especially for smokers, a report in the national Mainichi newspaper said Sunday.

Tour participants will fly on Malaysia Airlines and Italy’s Alitalia, two carriers that still allow smoking on international flights, the report said.

And once they’ve reached their destination _ Los Angeles, Milan, Cairo or Shanghai _ the smokers will visit restaurants and other places that allow them to indulge their habit.

Smoking has long been accepted in public places like planes and restaurants in Japan, where 35 percent of adults _ and more than half the men _ smoke.

But recently smoking opponents have become more vocal, and the number of restaurants, offices and other public places restricting smoking has risen.

Earlier this year, Japan’s two major airlines, Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways, banned smoking on all international flights, adding to a ban already imposed on domestic flights.

Kazuhiro Kunoki, president of the travel agency and a smoker himself, said the purpose of the tour was not to promote smoking.

Instead, he was quoted as saying, ``We want to respect the rights of people who smoke.″

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