Saturday, May 31, 2008

JJNN 10 May 31th, 2008

Welcome again to JJNN for Saturday May 31th, 2008. Today I will be talking about buying smokes in Japan.

Japan is a country of many modern conveniences. There are vending machines on almost every corner that sell things ranging from the normal (soda and juice) to the weird (from used panties to beetles). Though there are vending machines that sell instant ramen, there are no good snack machines. But, anyway, I digress. This week I will be talking about vending machines that sell cigarettes. The original story is told here.

Yep, they sell cigarettes in vending machines in Japan. The major problem with this is that the old machines could be used by anyone. Hell, a five year old with a thousand yen bill could go up to one of the old machines and walk away with a couple of packs of cigarettes. The Japanese government and the Japanese tobacco company decided that really had to change. That is why they started a program called taspo.

Taspo is a system where a smoker has to fill out a form and give proof that they are over 18 years old (the smoking age in Japan). After jumping though all these hoops the person gets a shiny new IC card. They can than go up to one of the cigarette vending machines and touch the IC card to the reader and buy their smokes like normal. You can see a picture of what the card looks like in front of the new high tech vending machine below.

The taspo system starts in most places in Japan on the first of June. Yep, that would be tomorrow. The only problem with this is the fact that only about 10% of all the smokers in Japan actually bothered to get a taspo card. I am wonder if there will be a rush to get taspo cards. Maybe people will just buy them from cigarette stands.

I also want to see all the ways that people find around this system. Just thinking for a few seconds I came up with a few low tech ways for kids under 18 to get smokes. For example the kids could steal or "borrow" taspo cards from their parents or legal friends. They could also just got to cigarette stores and buy their smokes because the people behind the counters in Japan don't really card.

Any way it is now time for the word of the day. Today's word is 自動販売機(じどうはんばいき). It is pronounced jido hanbai-ki and means vending machines. Maybe I should do a story about those used underwear vending machines.

That's it for today. See you next time at JJNN.

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