Vending Machines - Japanese protecting their children from becoming life-long nicotine addicts..

July 2, 2008 - Japan is the land of the vending machine. Starting in July 2008, companies owning cigarette vending machines can be prosecuted for the sale of tobacco to anyone under the legal age. In a country where there are more than half a million cigarette vending machines, the legal implications of this new law are severe. The vending machines will employ an advanced facial recognition system that compares a buyer's bone structure, skin sag, brow wrinkles and crow's feet against a record of more than 100,000 people. If the buyer fails the visual scan, they will be required to insert their ID card into the machine in order to verify that they are of legal age to smoke. The new vending machines come at a time when tobacco companies are facing increased scrutiny from both the general public and the Japanese government. The card system was first introduced in Miyazaki and Kagoshima prefectures in March 2008 and gradually spread across the nation. It is expected, with the use of this new system, that teenage smoking will drop rapidly.A recent study showed that 14% of boys and 4% of girls aged 17 and 18 smoke every day in Japan. References: Taspo cigarette vending machine system goes into full effect across Japan, Japan-News, 7/1/2008 and Big in Japan: New cigarette vending machines can count your wrinklesby Matthew Firestone,, 5/14/2008. Related news brief: Japanese lawmakers want to triple cigarette prices... Click on image to enlarge..