Taspo

29 Oct

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?

12 Responses to “Taspo”

  1. tokyo5 November 4, 2008 at 8:56 pm #

    Yes, Japanese schools tell kids about the dangers of smoking.

    Like

  2. Mom November 4, 2008 at 5:26 am #

    Yes, not to mention how expensive they are here! I don’t know how anyone can really afford to smoke these days-not just for the cost to their health either but also their cash.

    I think having both parents who smoked and seeing the damage it did to their health helped me to hate it. also after I worked as a LPN and saw some really pathetically sick people.

    The schools have really helped kids here to know the dangers of smoking too. is it like that in Japan?

    Like

  3. tokyo5 November 4, 2008 at 2:35 am #

    Mom…

    >does Japan help the people to see the health risks involved with smoking?

    Yes, they have health warnings on the cigarette packs. And hospitals have signs warning about the dangers of smoking.

    >…native north carolinian who complains about the good old days when they could make a bundle selling their crop of tobacco!!

    And that’s why cigarettes are still advertised and sold (and smoked)…because Japan Tabacco® and the Japanese gov’t make too much money from cigarettes to seriously stop it. Thankfully though, more and more places are No smoking!

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  4. Mom November 4, 2008 at 1:11 am #

    I am so glad that I quit smoking so that I don’t have to bother or worry about cigerattes anymore. the nicotine addiction was like having a chain around me for a long time. I haven’t smoked in over 30 yrs now and they say that all the damage that was done to my lung has been healed. so for that I am thankful. the lungs have the capacity to heal themselves if you quit before too much damage has been done. and when I see people paying the price for smoking it makes me more grateful that I was able to quit.
    I do remember those awful cig. machines too and I am glad they are gone. I think if Japan only made cigerattes available through the machines with the taspo cards it might help motivate some people to quit, or at least cut down. does Japan help the people to see the health risks involved with smoking? since we have moved to North Carolina which was one of the big tobacco producers in the U.S. we still see some tobacco farms and other farms that now produce a different crop. we occ. hear from some old-timer who is a native north carolinian who complains about the good old days when they could make a bundle selling their crop of tobacco!! but I have heard less and less of that! maybe the reaction from the public made them embarrassed to complain so they quit and got smart. anyway, I have always been so thankful that none of my kids ever smoked too. they were all too smart and health consc.,like their Mom!!

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  5. tokyo5 November 3, 2008 at 10:33 am #

    MB…

    >No, I don’t smoke

    That’s good.

    >I’ve never seen a vending machine with cigarettes in it

    I saw them in America when I was a kid in the ’70s. They were outlawed in America before you were born. They weren’t the high-tech machines like in Japan today…very old-school! Put the money in and pull a handle under the caigarettes you want and they would fall down.

    >it is banned in alot of punlic places and you don’t see as many people smking in general. Good thing!!

    Yeah, that’s good. Japan has made walking and smoking illegal a few years ago. You still see some people doing it sometimes, though. Mostly old people who aren’t used to the new rules…and sometimes foreigners! 😦

    >I would feel that it would be inconvenient to not be able to buy things like aspirin OTC, much more inconvenient than say, not being able to buy beer at 2 a.m.!!!

    Aspirin in gas stations and convenience stores kinda reinforces the image that Americans take medicine too much! In Japan, most people believe in letting the cold run it’s course (and only take medicine if it’s absolutely necessary).
    It used to be like that in America. But now America has an image of over-medicating…even children.

    And when we visited Florida in 2004, my wife and I decided we’d like to relax and have a beer and midnight snack after the kids went to bed. There were no more beers in the ‘fridge, so I ran over to 7-11® and to my surprise they had the beer locked up til the next afternoon. I was disappointed.

    >I get a little better sense of what Japan is really like…from you

    Good. Come to Japan and see it “in person” though!

    Like

  6. Mb November 3, 2008 at 3:58 am #

    Last comment…it is interesting to compare the different perspectives and hear about the reputation of a country around the world. It seems that the world is becoming more and more globalized and nearly every country has both good and not-so-good “reputations” among just ordinary people. It is so often that I hear comments about various other countries and I wonder what it is REALLY like to live there. For example, I get a little better sense of what Japan is really like (what it is like to be a part of the culture) from you, and so when I hear some of the common conceptions people have, positive or negative, I have to weigh and balance those perspectives with what it might really be like to be an entrenched member of the culture.

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  7. Mb November 3, 2008 at 3:47 am #

    I would feel that it would be inconvenient to not be able to buy things like aspirin OTC, much more inconvenient than say, not being able to buy beer at 2 a.m.!!! 😛

    Like

  8. Mb November 3, 2008 at 3:45 am #

    No, I don’t smoke, and I’ve never seen a vending machine with cigarettes in it. It seems like smoking is alot less popular lately…it is banned in alot of punlic places and you don’t see as many people smking in general. Good thing!!

    Like

  9. tokyo5 October 30, 2008 at 11:48 pm #

    bartman905…

    >In Canada, selling cigarettes is very strictly controlled (similar to liquor, including beer) and not sold in vending machines. Also, there certainly are less smokers in Canada (US) compared to Japan.

    I don’t know about Canada (but if I were to assume…I’d say it’s similar to America.).
    When I was in America last, there weren’t any cigarette vending machines…but there were still many people smoking.
    And stores stopped selling beer at midnight! (See my post about it here: https://tokyo5.wordpress.com/2008/06/02/random/ ) It’s inconvenient!

    Worse than cigarettes and beer is guns and drugs (legal and illegal)…and both are much more readily available in America than Japan!
    In the U.S., guns can be bought fairly easily. In Japan, basically only the military, police and hunters have guns legally (and noone except the mafia has them illegally).
    Actually a majority of hunters in Japan use bow and arrow rather than firearms because it’s so difficult for civilians to get a gun license.

    And illegal drugs are quite uncommon here (the penalties are extremely strict)…and to get medicine without a doctor’s prescription (ie: over-the-counter) requires a trip to a drug-store (unlike America, convenience stores, gas stations, etc don’t sell OTC medicine—even aspirin!). And when you go to a drug-store in Japan for OTC medicine…you have to explain your symptoms to the pharmacist, who will get the medicine for you.
    I think that’s better. America has a bit of a reputation in other countries for going overboard with medicine-taking!

    Like

  10. tokyo5 October 30, 2008 at 11:31 pm #

    umepontarou…

    Yeah, the technology is Japan is always ahead of the rest of the world!

    Like

  11. bartman905 October 29, 2008 at 3:47 pm #

    No, I don’t smoke. In Canada, selling cigarettes is very strictly controlled (similar to liquor, including beer) and not sold in vending machines. Also, there certainly are less smokers in Canada (US) compared to Japan.

    Like

  12. umepontarou October 29, 2008 at 12:23 pm #

    Wow… I think it’s pretty cool. In Japan you don’t really need to carry cash any more.
    But I also understand that people don’t bother getting Taspo, just go to convenience stores or kiosk. Convenience stores are everywhere, as well as vending machines.

    BTW, Taspo sounds very cute 🙂

    Like

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