The idea of a smoking card might sound like a strange idea, but in Japan, where a whopping 53 percent of the male population smokes, it seems to make perfect sense. Tobacco makers, retailers, and vending machine operators across Japan now require all buyers to use a special smart card when purchasing cigarettes from machines. The card aims to prevent underage buyers – those under the age of 20 – from acquiring cigarettes.
The cards, which are known as “Taspo” or “Tobacco Passport” cards, contain an embedded Mifare smart chip that stores the cardholder’s age. Japanese vending machines are able to read the cards to determine whether or not the buyer is old enough to purchase cigarettes. In order to obtain a Taspo cards, smokers must first fill out an application. Some are hoping that the process will also help convince existing smokers to quit.