A vending machine scans a taspo card/Photo by Taro Fujimoto
TOKYO — The Tobacco Institute of Japan (TIOJ) on Friday started accepting applications for an age verification card for tobacco vending machines at a promotional event held in Roppongi. The card, called "taspo," will be introduced nationwide from March in order to prevent underage smoking.
The new system requires cigarette buyers to use the taspo IC card before they can use a vending machine. Anyone aged over 20 can apply by sending an application form together with a photograph and a photocopy of identification. Registration is free and the card will be issued within two weeks after applying.
Hitomichi Tanaka, a spokesperson for the TIOJ, says, "The application form is only in Japanese. In the case of foreigners, only an alien registration card is acceptable as identification. So those who are visiting Japan temporarily will have to buy cigarettes over the counter at shops."
Yuki Kuzuya, 24, who was visiting from Nagoya, said: "I think taspo will work in preventing underage smoking. It's inconvenient to have to carry the card all the time but it's better than being unable to buy cigarettes."