Trust the Japanese to make use of technology for very practical reasons. This is, in fact, one of their strongest points, in my mind. They have been gifted with the aptitude for innovations when it comes to technology and they have not hesitated to make use of it. As simple as things may be, the Japanese are known to be able to create applications that are quite useful.
One of the latest things that the government is working on is to enable their cigarette vending machines to be able to check the age of the buyer using his or her driver’s license. An AP article gives more information:
The Finance Ministry plans to allow a new type of cigarette vending machine that accepts driving licenses for age verification, in addition to those that read “taspo” smart cards, sources close to the matter said Sunday.
The move is planned because vending machines with the taspo card function have proved unpopular, probably due to the extra procedures required to obtain the integrated circuit card, they said.
In order to prevent underage smoking, Japan plans to restrict access to cigarette vending machines to adults carrying taspo cards by July.
Vending machines that check a buyer’s age by reading a taspo card have already been introduced in some areas, including Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefectures.
But according to the Tobacco Institute of Japan, only 8 percent of the around 26 million smokers had applied for the cards as of April 13.
To obtain the taspo IC cards, consumers need to fill out applications distributed by tobacco shops and to mail them to a designated address together with copies of personal identification papers such as a driving license.
The new type of vending machine, to be approved by the ministry, can verify a cigarette buyer’s birth date when a driving license is inserted in it, they said.