I was cleaning up my photo albums one day and I saw this interesting photo which thought it might be good to post it on my blog. One interesting fact in Japan is that are so many 7-11, family mart located along the street which are just few meters away, the streets are still being littered with vending machines selling drinks and cigarettes. I did a brief calculation the number of vending machines around a block and guess what ? There is a total of more than 20 vending machines ! A sight which you will never see in Singapore. These vending machines are available 24 hours along the street, so hooray for the smokers ! By the way, the cigarettes that are selling in Japan tasted and smell much better than those selling in Singapore…
Different Culture Views
Japanese certainly have a different views compared to Singapore in terms of control of cigarettes selling. While Singapore has banned cigarettes advertisement donkey years ago, Japan are selling them with vending machines and advertisements all over the place. Better still, they are also selling alcoholic drinks e.g. beers straight from the vending machines as well.
Control of Cigarette Selling to Underage
It is definite a question that how can they control underage from buying cigarettes from the vending machines. Initially while I was in Japan, I did not really see much control being done and there is only a message pasted onto the vending machines that underage should not smoke cigarettes.
A year later in Osaka, they have came out with a new system called the “Taspo” card, which you will need to register at one of their booth free of charge and tap the card on the panel before you purchase the cigarettes. Furthermore, they have implemented time restriction on the vending machines to operate till 10 or 11pm in the night and available at 5am in the morning at some places to strengthen the restrictions.
No long later, they have equipped all cigarettes vending machines with face recognition panel, and the camera will scan your face to determine your age. If you passed, you can buy the cigarettes without using the Taspo card. It was quite innovative way to control underage, but I am not sure how effective face recognition can be.
This is how the IC card looks like
Life Being Too Digitalised ?
While the Japanese has made it so convenient that is no human interaction at all. This could means technology are building up barriers between people and breaking communication. Looking at Singapore, if you are buying cigarettes from the same family mart or coffeeshop, at least the uncle or auntie will interactive and chat with you, but apparently Japanese like to stay in their own life without interference. In the instance of some restaurants, you can just go to the vending machine, make a selection of your intended lunch, make payment and bring the coupon to the counter. They will served you immediately. Without a word. Some could understand the convenient of such system as it bring ease and speed up proceed, especially foreigners like us, but you can just feel the lack of communication.
Too Much Electricity Usage?
Seriously, I am not sure who is paying for the electricity of these vending machines, but I think they are spending far too much electricity and resources in a densely populated province like Osaka. I think I will be fine with 7-11, at least I could grab a bite at the same time.