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Seven-Eleven Japan eyes ashtray removal from Tokyo outlets

Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Leading convenience store operator Seven-Eleven Japan Co. has asked franchise outlets in Tokyo to remove ashtrays installed outside of the stores, it was learned Sunday.

Seven-Eleven Japan, a unit of retail giant Seven & i Holdings Co., will decide whether to take the step across the country after examining the results at the Tokyo outlets, informed sources said.

The move comes as many customers are complaining about passive smoking and an increasing number of restaurants in Japan are introducing a smoking ban, according to the sources.

Seven-Eleven Japan has a total of some 2,700 stores in the capital, including about 1,000 with ashtrays in front of the shops. The request for ashtray removal was made to the 1,000 stores about a month ago, the sources said.

While the request is not binding since the ashtrays belong to the stores, outlets that agreed have posted written notices to shoppers and will remove ashtrays starting on Monday, according to the sources.

No ashtrays are installed at directly run Seven-Eleven Japan stores in Tokyo.

Seven-Eleven Japan sells tobacco at more than 90 percent of its stores across the country, with tobacco accounting for about 20 percent of its overall sales. Many outlets have installed ashtrays to promote sales as some customers buy tobacco and smoke in front of the stores after their purchases. The ashtray installation is also intended to prevent nearby areas from being littered with cigarette butts.

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