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TASPO cigarettes vending card slowly being accepted

Date Posted: 2008-07-02

The new TASPO system of identifying those legally authorized to purchase cigarettes from vending machines has hit Okinawa.
Okinawa Tuesday joined eight other prefectures in putting the cards into service. The TASPO card protects children from purchasing cigarettes, because the card must be registered by adults in order to use vending machines. The card is not issued to people under 20 years of age. Other prefectures phasing in the new system include Tokyo, Chiba, Saitama, Miyazaki and Kagoshima.
Officials say about 20% of the country is now being served by the new TASPO system. Bugs are still being worked out with the system, and officials acknowledge the card cannot solve the problem of parents permitting underage children to use their cards. One cigarette shop employee made the TASPO card by herself, and had been allowing people to use it before she was caught.
Convenience stores report a cigarette sales uptick of 3.7% as many people haven’t taken time to register for a TASPO card. Officials say people who don’t want a TASPO card could soon be able to use their driver’s licenses as proof of ID. The technology is available, but vending machine manufacturers say they’re too busy right now to change all the software to read them. “Not now, we are much too busy,” a factory supervisor says. “We can’t make enough units on time now. We have orders for too many of the driver’s license recognition units.”

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