Smoking in general is a pretty big problem in Japan. Cigarette vending machines are ubiquitous, allowing access to teens. But now, technology is helping with the crackdown:
The tobacco industry will introduce a system aimed at preventing minors from smoking with the help of micro chip-imbedded cards, they said Thursday. A total of 620,000 tobacco vending machines nationwide will be switched during 2008 to types that can read integrated circuit cards carried by those aged 20 or older, said the Tobacco Institute of Japan, the Japan Vending Machine Manufacturers Association and other industry bodies.
Under the new system, smokers would need to carry the IC cards, with the new vending machines reading them through a sensor. They would apply for the cards free of charge by sending an application form to offices managing the system along with any document that shows they are aged 20 or older.
Our interpretation is: the tobacco industry is happy to curtail sales to minors in exchange for tracking the purchasing habits and patterns of its addicted customers. They might even sell the data to insurance companies…