Japan has many kinds of 自動販売機 (vending machines)….including cigarette vending machines.
I don’t smoke, so I have no use for these machines…but they’re a convenience for people who do smoke. But, an obvious problem with them is the fact that they make it easier for minors to buy cigarettes.
So, to address this problem, Japan introduced a smart card with IC this year.
This card is called “Taspo“. It stands for “Tobbaco Passport”
To use this card, people who want to buy cigarettes from vending machines would submit an application with a photo and proof that they are at least 20 years old (the legal smoking age in Japan). The card is free but only necessary when buying cigarettes from a machine…not necessary when purchasing them from a store.
Once the card is received in the mail, it can be used like the popular IC cards for Japan’s trains and buses (see my post about that card at the end of this post here). Cigarettes cannot be purchased from a vending machine in Japan without scanning this card on the machine’s reader now…this is meant to help prevent underage smoking (only the person whose name and photo is on the Taspo card can legally use it).
It can be charged with money so cigarettes can be purchased with the card alone–no need to put money into the vending machine–the cost of the cigarettes is deducted from the card’s charge automatically.
In theory, this should be successful and popular. But the Taspo Card may very well lead to the end of cigarette vending machines in Japan.
Most smokers here didn’t bother to apply for the card and just buy their cigarettes from a store now.
Here’s the Taspo Card scanner on a cigarette vending machine:
Do you smoke? Do they have cigarette 自動販売機 (vending machines) in your country? Or, if you live in Japan, do you use the Taspo?