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back to article Japan's ciggie machines to sniff out buyer's age

Most people wouldn’t welcome the onset of wrinkles and crow’s feet, but Japanese smokers could soon need some if they’re to buy smokes from the country’s cigarette machines. Japan’s legal smoking age is 20, but the country already has around 570,000 vending machines that dispense packs at whim. However, new regulations come into …

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So amdram makes a revival in Nippon?

I forsee a generation of exceptionally talented makeup artists among the teenaged generation of Japanese. Either that or they learn how to use eyeliner to add a few wrinkles.

This is why Japan works, they're constantly fostering talent among their youth!

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eh?

Am I missing something or can you easily get round this by holding up a photo of an adult?

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Useless technology....

Don't you just love useless, expensive technology? It only works about 90% of the time, and if it isn't convinced then they have to insert a driving licence. So they can just "borrow" a driving licence and insert it anyway.

In fact, why don't they just make people insert their driving licence, check the DOB printed on it and compare photo on the licence against the face in front of the camera? Facial comparison software is much much more accurate when providing two pictures, even taking into account aging. Instead they overcomplicate things by trying to make the machine guess peoples ages.

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Tim

just carry a snap of a fogey around!

Stick it in front of the camera and hey presto! a 12 year old can get his smokes!

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Stop

eh? 2

If they've got the tech to read driving licenses (reliable-ish), why do they need the face recognition (unreliable) in the first place.

It's a lot harder to come by a fake/stolen license than it is to take a snap of an old wrinkly in the street and hold it up to the camera.

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Anonymous Coward

Make cigarettes as expensive as the UK...

...then they'll have to use a credit card to buy them.

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Alien

anyone can buy beer however

so if they stop this it won't stop the wonton sale of beer on every corner street vending machines.

after all can't have the country get into DT's

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Anonymous Coward

<no title>

The correct solution is, to microchip everyone, which can then signal to the machine, who it is buying the fags. The database can then be interrogated to find out the age of the buyer.

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Paris Hilton

Your clothes, give them to me

I don't want to come across as an evil racist, but surely most Japanese 21-year-olds don't have sagging skin and wrinkles around the eyes etc? Even if they have spent years smoking. Certainly, the young Japanese women I saw on the internet that time didn't have sagging skin, or sagging anything for that matter. They looked to be well-moisturised in the facial area.

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Downsizing

"Most people wouldn’t welcome the onset of wrinkles and crow’s feet, but Japanese smokers could soon need some if they’re to buy smokes from the county’s cigarette machines."

When I were a lad, and at School. Japan was a country. Has it been downsized?

:D

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Silver badge
Happy

Load of Botox

I can see it now, old fag* addicts shot up with botulism hammering on machines as they are denied access due to the mirror-smooth skin. No-one would be able to see the pain and anguish on their faces either.

* as in "While you've got a Lucifer to light your fag"

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Wrinkles

"wrinkles around the eyes, bone structure and sagging skin"

I knew Japan had an aging problem, but do their 20-year-olds really look like that? Particularly as in their animation they all look 13.

The real story here is that in one of the most conservative developed societies in the world you can still buy beer and cigs out of vending machines, whereas over here our government is currently planning laws where you have to ask for them from under the counter, and all such purchases must be carried in a brown paper bag with "I AM FILTHY ADDICT SCUM - DO NOT APPROACH" written in big black letters on both sides.

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I Don't Understand

>> If the system can’t verify a person’s age with a single snap, it asks

>> the buyer to insert their driving licence in order to confirm their age.

Why not just check the driving licence in the first place?

I suppose on privacy ground it is preferable not to have your licence scanned; or the NuLabour alternative - lookup your picture on a national ID database.

I imagine the computers can be atleast as accurate as Asda's "Think 25" policy.

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Anonymous Coward

It's most likely just to avoid prosecution

If you can show that someone has to actively get around restrictive measures you have put in place, you're likely to escape prosecution for under age supply.

I suspect they were asked either to do something to restrict supply or lose the machines altogether.

I doubt the manufacturers are really bothered if teens game the machines so long as they're not liable.

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Joke

How could the obvious be missed...

"The computer says no."

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Anonymous Coward

seriously

in reallife they don't look much older until they hit 30, the girls at least. There age steps seem to go 12 ->15 ->35 ->50 -> dead.

Smoking didn't seem to be a very done thing amongst the youth, although you didn't get shot for it either. Seems like a pretty pointless move (lets face it Goto Maki got slammed for being snapped smoking in a pachinko parlour even though she'd stopped being an idol a while before (it was kind of a Japanese equivelent Amy Whinehouse and her narcs or Britney and her crazy shaved head and nakedness.) Kago Ai also got suspended from being an idol for a year for underaged smoking)

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Bronze badge

Time Gentlemen (cough cough) Please!

The odd thing I noticed when I was in Japan last year was that the cigarette machines switched off automatically at 11:00 p.m. The drinks machines stopped dispensing beer and sake around the same time but they would continue to sell soft drinks and bottled water.

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Anonymous Coward

This is only one of many proposals being discussed right now

While the Japanese government is in the process of passing new legislation regulating vending machines for alcoholic beverages and tobacco, companies which make and operate these machines are discussing various proposals what to do. This is just one of a number of ideas floating around over here right now.

In my opinion the most likely proposal to be implemented is the proposal where you need a special vending machine chip card for any regulated sales from vending machines. Japanese society is already used to truckloads of different plastic cards to hold all kinds of discount points, every store chain has its own loyalty card and there are special wallets available here which can hold tens to hundreds such cards. Before this background, one more card for buying tobacco (and later on alcoholic beverages) from vending machines would not make much of a difference and thus not pose any inconvenience to the average Japanese consumer. We're already used to this.

For those who don't have a card and want to buy something in a hurry from a vending machine, there are tons of convenience stores on every corner and they operate 24/7, so no big deal, you just have to walk 50 feet more to get your smoke/booze.

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Anonymous Coward

Repeat offenders

I figure the need for the driving licence is so that they can later match photo to driving licence and find those kids that are gaming the system, and "do something about them"

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M7S
Bronze badge

Will the health insurance companies be taking copies of the data?

For later rejection of any claims?

It could be the health equivalent of posting embarrasing photos on FaceSpace (or whatever) under your own name and then applying for a job.

If the photos become good enough to function as Iris scans, I wouldn't put it past them.....

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Anonymous Coward

Ain't gonna happen

Japan just started using a new system called taspo for age identification at vending machines this month, so I find it hard to believe they're going to start using another one any time soon.

Also, due to the fact it costs 300,000 yen ($2900 U.S.) to get a license, and the public transportation system being so convenient, there are a lot of people without a drivers license over here.

If anyone feels like reading about Taspo,

http://www.taspo.jp/index.html

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Anonymous Coward

The photos on JP driver licenses are tiny

I seriously doubt you can use the tiny photos on Japanese driver licenses for any software based processing and pattern matching, I reckon they are just too small and they are of horrible quality, too.

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Anonymous Coward

<no title>

How is taspo going to know whether you used your own card, or borrowed your father's when he put it down for a few minutes? The machine needs to check the individual, not something they're carrying.

This checking thing is all nonsense. I despair at the lack of intelligence shown by those who get to positions of authority. Either ban the weed, or leave it up to the parents to whup the arse of their kids if and when they indulge; or put up with the consequences.

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Paris Hilton

Budgens are doing something similar

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7397454.stm

"Hi-tech tool spots child drinkers"

Paris because she's not an under-age drinker.

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Coming to a country near you?

A similar technology is apparently being trialed in a store in London.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7397454.stm

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