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The headline for the March 23 story on Lawson stores introducing Sadanobu Takamasu — “Lawson chief bets on health, tech as future of convenience” — was inaccurate. Lawson’s business, with its inexcusable reliance on tobacco products to secure a bountiful bottom line, is a pure bet against health.

In each of the five years through 2016, shareholder reports show that roughly a quarter of its net sales in Japan were in cigarettes. Twenty-five percent.That’s stunningly vast when one considers the diversity of products on Lawson store shelves. Why are we not hearing about that?

In the interview, Takemasu says, “No one dislikes health.” But given his company’s core operation of profiting from nicotine addiction that fosters human tragedies of disease and death, this is simply hypocritical. You can’t aim in one direction and pretend to wish toward the other with a mere slogan.

Lawson is surely one of the largest retailers of tobacco products in Japan. Unless and until we see it fully quit tobacco product sales, removing the products and their colorful youth-oriented point-of-sale marketing displays, no amount of talk about health should be allowed to mask the company’s true designs.

MARK LEVIN
HONOLULU

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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