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Teenagers run rings around smart cards

| August 28, 2013

About half of Japan’s underage smokers have admitted to having bought tobacco products illegally using a borrowed Taspo card, the age-verification smart card used to purchase cigarettes from vending machines, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun story quoting the results of the research.

The findings were reported by Takashi Oida, the professor at Nihon University who headed up the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry research team.

The Taspo card, which is issued only to adults, was introduced in July 2008 to help prevent underage smoking.

And though the number of underage smokers is on the decline, the team’s survey shows that teenagers often borrow Taspo cards from adults.

The research group distributed a questionnaire on smoking to 140,000 students at 264 middle and high schools, and 100,000 of them in 179 schools responded.

The results showed that 2,851 students, or 2.8 percent, had smoked within the previous month.

Forty-eight percent of respondents said that price hikes had affected their purchase of cigarettes, while 44 percent said the introduction of Taspo cards had made it difficult to purchase tobacco from vending machines.

However, the survey found that 49 percent of the students who had smoked in the previous month had purchased cigarettes using a Taspo card belonging to someone else. Fifty-six percent of those who had used a Taspo had borrowed the card from someone outside their family; 21 percent had borrowed a card from a family member; while 14 percent had used a card that had been left at home.

Category: Breaking News

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