Tobacco industry to introduce vending machines with age-check system
(Kyodo) _ Japan's Tobacco industry group said Thursday it will start switching cigarette vending machines nationwide to new machines featuring an age-verification system from March 2008 to prevent minors from buying cigarettes.
The Tobacco Institute of Japan said it will start switching the old machines to the new ones in Miyazaki and Kagoshima prefectures in March 2008 and will do so in 21 prefectures in May that year, then complete the measure nationwide two months later.
Last October, the institute announced that a total of 620,000 tobacco vending machines nationwide will be switched during 2008 to types that can read "tobacco cards" with integrated circuit chips bought by adult smokers.
With the introduction of such vending machines, smokers would need to carry the micro-chip imbedded cards, with the new vending machines reading them through a sensor.
The institute will start receiving applications for the cards from people who are 20 -- the legally allowed age for smokers -- or older from late 2007, it said.
Consumers can apply for the cards free of charge by sending an application form to offices managing the system along with documents that show their age, it added.
The tobacco cards will have the function of prepaid cards, so smokers can buy tobacco products with them