License to smoke

As of today us beleaguered smokers face yet another humiliating obstacle in our drives for self-destruction: the Taspo, a photo ID necessary to purchase cigarettes from vending machines, instigated to stop the underaged, which in Japan is anyone under 20 in the case of smoking, from buying their fix from any of the millions of conveniently available, inviting and mostly unguarded machines. The Taspo can be acquired via a laborious process of sending off for forms, to be filled in and sent back with verifiable ID and a photograph. although there are ways around it. It's all slightly barmy, of course.

Despite some half-hearted efforts from various fronts, Japan is still very much a smoker's country. Maybe I don't observe well enough but I wasn't under the impression underage smoking was a huge issue over here, but it might be. The biggest crime still goes unexamined, however, which is, the one thing I, as a smoker, detest, young families taking their children, sometimes even babies, into the smoking areas of coffeeshops and restaurants. Nothing ruins a good cigarette more than feeling self-conscious about the 2 year old at the next table, even though his idiotic mother or father is happily blowing his own smoke towards his progeny. It disgusts me. My solution: to put the same age limit buying cigarettes has on smoking areas, nobody under 20 is allowed in one. My colleagues and other lost souls I happen to preach at occasionally all seem to agree this is a spiffing idea, yet I hold no hopes of it ever being passed into law. More likely is that Japan will blindly follow in the Western whiners' footsteps of banning all public smoking one way or another, though that, thanks to my own smoking habits and the speed at which change occurs in Japan, probably won't happen in my foreshortened lifetime.

I think I'll end up getting one of these Taspos anyway, as it is such a typically Japanese idea, even though I purchase all my cigarettes from the local kiosk from an ancient woman who knows me and my habits so well I need not even ask her, because she dives behind the counter as I approach and gets out my usual with a smile. But it'd be fun to wave a Taspo around when abroad so we can all have a good look and a giggle at my "license to smoke".

Now we wait for the next Card-o. After the Passmo, the chargeable public transport card, and the aforementioned Taspo I predict a Nomimo or Pissflo, an ID to allow salarymen to not only to purchase alcohol, but have it used as a pre-paid taxi fare payment card with the drinker's address encoded. It's a winner, I think you'll agree!


  1. Haha, You Only Live Twice is in my RSS feed.
    I'm guessing you used that because it was in Japan and he's smoking.
    Or I could be totally wrong about everything.

    Anyway, you make a good point about limiting age in smoking areas. Good to see your conscientious of the young ones.

  2. Taspo, let's see.. it must be a traditional Japanese contraction.. "Tabacco.. Passport? Eh? No?

  3. Maybe the next one will be a Pantsuo, allowing purchases at certain vending machines and shops.


    Sorry, that was cliché.

  4. You can't complain too much when you compare that with things back in the UK - on Sunday I got id-ied at Waitrose and was refused a Guiness because I had no ID on me...I'm 26!

  5. A smoking area age limit is a damn good idea, since if you aren't legally allowed to smoke, what fucking business do you even have being in there. If parents can't take their kids in, maybe they will make more of an effort to stop.

    Personally I hate smoking seats and non-smoking seats that are not divided off properly. What the hell is a waist high glass screen along the edge of my table going to do to stop the smoke making my clothes reek even more than the summer heat is indirectly* causing them to?

    I had to read a newspaper article about taspo for my Japanese homework a few weeks ago and it sounds like not only is it pissing JC off, it's also driving business away from the tabacco shops and the vending machines usually positioned outside of them to convenience stores, which do not reqire the use of taspo to buy cigarettes. It's also fairly unlikely to stop kids who really want to smoke getting cigarettes anyway, since there are plenty of ways around it.

    It's amazing the waste of money that goes on in this country really. Meh, I guess there are similarly pointless schemes the world over.

    *by making me sweat like I've got a leaking tap under my armpit

  6. Ptolemy, nah, it's Dr. No actually. Hadn't even considered the Japan angle of Only Live Twice, idiot that I am!

    After a quick informal survey it would appear none of my smoking colleagues have a Taspo, are getting a Taspo or give a flying toss about Taspo. Money well spent then!
    I should get one quick for the novelty value before they are inevitably ignored and die.

  7. I don't remember these requirements when I visited. I bought this pack of Tasty "Nuts" Menthol out of a vending machine in Hotel Sunroute.

    Mmm. Tasty Nuts.

  8. I think that they are utilizing the tobacco as a sacrificial lamb, pollution is even worst.

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