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July, 2008:

Smoking Ban Announced For Northern Territory Bars

ABC News Posted Fri Jul 18, 2008 2:25pm AEST
Updated Fri Jul 18, 2008 7:21pm AEST

Smoking inside Territory pubs and clubs will be banned from 2010. (Reuters: Morris Mac Matzen )

The Territory government has announced its long awaited timeframe for banning smoking inside clubs and pubs, saying new restrictions will come into place from the start of 2010.

The ban will not include outdoor areas where food and drink is not directly served.

Minister Chris Burns says the ban will start in 2010 so businesses will have time to do building work or make other adjustments for the changes.

“Venues need time to carry out works on their rooms and venue to accommodate this change. That’s the advice that we’ve had from industry.

“So we’re prepared to work with industry and allow them some time to do those works, to allow for that change.

“But certainly we foreshadow that if venues want to go before that date then we will be supporting them.”

The Northern Territory is the last place in the country to ban smoking in bars.

Mr Burns says the move reflects public pressure and he is also hoping the smoking changes will end the Territory’s less than prestigious winning run of the Dirty Ash Tray award, given by the Australian Medical Association to the jurisdiction with the worst smoking habits.

State Opposition Gaming and Racing spokesman Matt Conlon has welcomed the move but has labelled it an election stunt because it will not come into effect for 18 months.

“Are they actually approaching some of these licensee’s and actually entering into some sort of negotiation?” he said.

“There’s been no funds set aside or there’s no announcement in this particular announcement as to how much the whole thing is going to cost.”

The indoor smoking ban in all pubs and clubs has been met with mixed support.

The Australian Medical Association’s Dr Rob Parker says its about time.

“It’s very embarrassing for year after year to be brought up as the government that’s done the least amount for smoking policy or smoking health related issues,” he said.

He also says it should have taken six months to impose the ban instead of 18 months.

However the Australian Hotels Association says some pubs and clubs could lose up to 40 per cent of their revenue.

The Association’s Mick Burns says businesses will have to build special smoking areas if they are going to protect profits.

“The large majority of pubs and clubs they either have or will need to make amendments or make changes to their premises to properly facilitate these announcements,” he said.

The Territory Government has also announced a cap on the number of poker machines in the Territory to 1,190.

There will be no new poker machine licenses handed out.

The State Government is also looking into buying back liquor licenses across the Territory.

Tobacco Companies Concealed Data on Radioactive Material

New Study Finds Tobacco Companies Concealed Data on Radioactive Material in Cigarettes

Polonium-210 in Cigarettes May Kill Thousands Worldwide Each Year

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Washington, D.C. – A study published online today by the American Journal of Public Health finds that tobacco companies have suppressed research and information on the presence of the deadly radioactive poison, polonium 210 (PO-210), in tobacco and tobacco smoke. Estimating that polonium-210 in cigarettes may annually cause the deaths of some 11,700 people from lung cancer worldwide, the study finds that for more than four decades, tobacco companies have known PO-210 is present in tobacco and tobacco smoke. The industry suppressed information about PO-210 out of concern that it would cause public relations and litigation problems and to avoid “waking a sleeping giant,” as one industry official stated.

Summarizing prior research, the study states, “It is estimated that smokers of 1.5 packs of cigarettes a day are exposed to as much radiation as they would receive from 300 chest X-rays a year. PO-210 has been estimated to be responsible for 1% of all U.S. lung cancers…. PO-210 may be responsible for more than 1,600 deaths in the United States and 11,700 deaths in the world each year.”

Polonium-210 received significant media attention in 2006 when it was found to have been used in the fatal poisoning of former KBD agent and Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko. That poisoning sent health officials across Europe and the former Soviet states to isolate the source and contain potential areas of deadly contamination.

“This study provides another important example of how tobacco companies willfully mislead the public about the dangers of their deadly products and cannot be trusted to tell the truth about their products,” said Damon Moglen, International Advocacy Director for the Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids. “The bottom line is that smoking kills and before taking a puff, people deserve accurate information about the many poisons in cigarettes, including radioactive polonium-210, and the many diseases caused by tobacco use. Governments must take action to protect their citizens from this deception.”

Governments can effectively combat the tobacco industry’s manipulation, and reduce tobacco use, by ratifying the world’s first public health treaty and implementing a set of interventions recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) called MPOWER. These interventions, proven to be effective and inexpensive, include:
• Monitor tobacco use and assess the impact of tobacco prevention and cessation efforts;
• Protect everyone from secondhand smoke with laws that require smoke-free workplaces and public places;
• Offer help to every tobacco user to quit;
• Warn and effectively educate every person about the dangers of tobacco use with strong, pictorial health warnings and hard-hitting, sustained media campaigns;
• Enact and enforce comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorships and on the use of misleading terms such as “light” and “low-tar;” and
• Raise the price of tobacco products by significantly increasing tobacco taxes.

There are 157 countries that have committed to implementing these interventions by signing the health treaty, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. According to the WHO, tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the world today. Unless nations act now, tobacco will kill one billion people worldwide this century.

The new study, entitled “Waking a Sleeping Giant: The Tobacco Industry’s Response to the Polonium-210 Issue”, was conducted by researchers at two prestigious institutions in the United States, the Mayo Clinic and Stanford University. The study analyzed internal tobacco industry documents and industry testimony and found that tobacco companies attempted, but ultimately choose against, removing PO-210 from their tobacco products. Research on the dangers of PO-210 was also stopped as tobacco companies feared the data would ignite a firestorm of public concern.

The study also found that tobacco companies “continue to minimize its [polonium-210’s] importance in smoking and health litigation and remain silent on their Web sites and in their messages to consumers.” The study analyzed internal documents, court testimony and trial depositions from tobacco companies including British American Tobacco, Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, Lorrillard, Liggett, Brown and Williamson, American Tobacco and others.

WHO Praises Thai Smoking Campaign

Bangkok Post – July 14, 2008 – Apiradee Treerutkuarkul

Thailand’s comprehensive efforts to control tobacco use have been praised by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which plans to use Thai policy as a model for improved anti-smoking campaigns in low and middle-income countries.

Thailand and Brazil are two countries being studied regarding bans on tobacco consumption and advertising, said Armando Peruga, a coordinator for the WHO’s Tobacco Free Initiative.

The WHO launched its “Mpower” project to help countries ratifying the Framework Convention of Tobacco Control (FCTC) achieve their anti-smoking schemes.

Very few countries have been able to put into practice tobacco bans mainly due to a lack of capacity building.

The treaty, adopted by all 195 countries, requires restrictions on all forms of tobacco advertising, trade, sponsorship and promotion, in addition to protection from exposure to tobacco smoke, effective taxation policies, pictorial health warnings on packaging and an end to duty free sales of tobacco products.

Member countries have to enforce controls against the promotion of tobacco products within five years after the FCTC took effect in 2005.

The planned study on the Thai anti-smoking effort was unveiled after a team of WHO experts met Thai officials during a three-day visit, which ended on Wednesday.

The experts discussed the pros and cons of the anti-smoking strategy.

The study will focus on six main topics – the epidemic smoking situation, tax policy, smoke-free environments, treatment, package and labelling, and a ban on advertisements.

A report on Thailand’s work is scheduled to be released in November.

The WHO finished its survey in Brazil last May and plans to study Turkey’s anti-smoking efforts next year.

Dr Peruga said he was hopeful that a review would enhance the anti-tobacco campaign in Thailand and other countries since smoking is not only a health problem but also an economic and social problem.

Thailand introduced a smoking ban in indoor areas of bars and pubs last year.

Oversight for Big Tobacco

It’s time for Congress to make regulation a reality.

Saturday, July 12, 2008; Page A12 – The Washington Post

FROM ASPIRIN to zucchini, the Food and Drug Administration monitors much of what Americans consume. But cigarettes, which shorten a smoker’s life by 10 years on average, have escaped FDA oversight, largely because of political pressure from Big Tobacco. That could change soon, thanks to a long-overdue bill the House is scheduled to vote on in the next few weeks that would give the agency authority to regulate the tobacco industry. Legislators should make the bill a priority so it has a chance to pass before Congress adjourns on Aug. 10.

The bill would allow the FDA to require a detailed disclosure of cigarette ingredients and to instruct tobacco companies to remove additives harmful to smokers. The bill also would place restrictions on marketing tobacco to youths, make health warning labels more explicit, eliminate descriptions such as “light” or “mild” that misrepresent the hazards of smoking and ban fruit-flavored cigarettes intended to ensnare young smokers. The bill would impose a fee on tobacco companies to fund staff positions at the FDA to oversee the industry.

The most significant obstacle facing the bill, besides Congress’s desire for a summer vacation, is that it would not ban the use of menthol additives. Menthol softens the harsh taste of cigarettes, which may make it easier for smokers to become addicted. Menthols are the cigarette of choice for three-fourths of African American smokers, compared with one in four white smokers. This is one reason black men get lung cancer at a rate 50 percent higher than white men do.

One organization, the National African American Tobacco Prevention Network, has withdrawn its support for the bill as a result. William S. Robinson, the group’s executive director, emphasized that his organization did not oppose the legislation but said the bill discriminates against blacks. We understand Mr. Robinson’s concerns and believe the FDA should consider banning menthol promptly if the bill passes. Lawmakers failed to include a ban on the additive out of political necessity; that allowed the bill to earn the support of numerous Republican legislators along with that of tobacco giant Philip Morris.

The bill will probably pass overwhelmingly in the House, but it faces a stiffer challenge in the Senate. Fifty-seven senators, including 12 Republicans, have signed on as co-sponsors. This is three votes short of the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster. If this remains so, lengthy debate and other parliamentary holdups could stall the bill; Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) has already threatened a filibuster.

The House must vote on the bill soon so it has a chance to pass in the Senate. It’s been 44 years since the U.S. surgeon general reported that cigarettes are harmful, and the country shouldn’t have to wait another year for independent oversight of Big Tobacco.

A Second Blow To Tobacco Appeal

SCOTUSblog – July 11, 2008 – Lyle Denniston

NOTE: The Supreme Court is scheduled to open its next Term on Monday, Oct. 6, with oral argument in a major case testing the right of smokers to go to court to challenge claims by tobacco companies that the health risk is less in using so-called “light” cigarettes (Altria Group, et al., v. Good, et al., 07-562). On June 18, the federal government — the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission — lined up on the side of the smokers. Now the FTC has gone further.

For 42 years, the government’s main regulator of business conduct, the Federal Trade Commission, has had a general policy against challenging cigarette-makers for marketing their products with claims that an FTC test shows that “light” cigarettes — “low in tar and nicotine” — pose lesser health hazards.

That policy forms a significant legal foundation for the now-pending Supreme Court appeal by a leading company, Philip Morris USA Inc., and its parent, Altria Group. Three weeks ago, the FTC, joined by the Justice Department, told the Supreme Court that Philip Morris was exaggerating the scope of the policy as it tried to head off damage lawsuits in state courts by smokers of “light” cigarettes. (The federal brief is [1] here.

Then, on Tuesday, the FTC took a new step: by a 4-0 vote, it proposed to nullify the policy, asking for public reaction to withdrawal of its 1966 ”guidance that it is generally not a violation of the FTC Act to make factual statements of the tar and nicotine yields of cigarettes” when those statements are based on tests using what is called “the FTC Test Method.” (An FTC press release making the announcement is [2] here, and the formal Federal Register notice can be read [3] here.)

The notice commented: “For some time, the Commission has been concerned that the machine-measured yields determined by the Cambridge Filter Method [’the FTC Method’] may be misleading to individual consumers who rely on the yields as indicators of the amount of tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide they actually will get from smoking a particular cigarette. In fact, the current yields tend to be relatively poor indicators of tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide exposure, and do not provide a good basis for comparison among cigarettes.”

If it opts, after public comment due by Aug. 12, to withdraw its prior “guidance,” the agency said, “advertisers should not use terms such as ‘per FTC Method’ or other phrases that state or imply FTC endorsement or approval of the Cambridge Filter Method or other machine-based test methods.”

In the pending Altria Group appeal in the Supreme Court, the “Cambridge Filter Method” — or “FTC Test” — is directly at issue. The company argues that FTC policy actually requires tobacco companies to disclose tar and nicotine yields based on the test, and that the FTC has authorized the companies to advertise cigarettes by using words such as “light” as short-hand ways of referring to the test results.

Because of these FTC “mandates,” as the company calls them, federal policy on cigarette marketing of “light” cigarettes bars states from allowing lawsuits in their courts challenging the use of such words or phrases, the appeal contends.

The specific case before the Court involves three former smokers of Philip Morris’s Marlboro Light or Cambridge Light cigarettes. Based on a Maine deceptive practices law, their lawsuit — allowed to go forward by the First Circuit Court — contends that the company deceived them into using “lights” so that they would get lower tar and nicotine yields that, in fact, they would not get.

There is a conflict among Circuit Courts on the preemption issue, and that is probably why the Supreme Court on Jan. 18 agreed to hear the appeal in the First Circuit case. Dozens of other cases are pending in state courts, seeking what Altria Group asserts are”billions of dollars in potential liability.”

In the federal brief filed last month, the U.S. Solicitor General’s office in the Justice Department, joined by the FTC, directly disputed the tobacco company’s claim that its ads on “light” cigarettes were the result of FTC “mandates.”

The Commission’s policy, in 1966 and since, has never required the companies to use ads that refer to the yields from the FTC Test, and has not authorized them to use “light” or other descriptive phrases as short-hand indications of the Test’s results.

The company’s claim that state court lawsuits are preempted by FTC policy, the brief said, “should be rejected because it is based on a mischaracterization of the scope and effect of FTC’s actions concerning cigarette advertising.” The FTC, the brief added, does not view state court lawsits like the one in Maine “as undermining the FTC’s policies in any way.”

Current FTC policy, the government agencies said, does not require ads’ disclosure of tar and nicotine levels in the Test, and the agency has never explicitly authorized the companies to use “light” or “lowered tar and nicotine” in their marketing.

In announcing its possible withdrawal of its 1966 policy, the FTC noted that the companies have used terms such as “light” or “ultra low” based on Test results. But, it added, it “has not defined those terms, nor provided guidance or authorization as to the use of descriptors.” Since it has “no Commission enforcement policy” on such words or phrases, it noted, its proposal “does not address the use of descriptors.” Thus, it would be limited to changing the guidance on ads that indicate that the claims are based on the FTC Test.

The Solicitor General’s office on Tuesday notified the Court, [4] by letter, of the FTC’s new proposal to drop its 1966 policy. Attached to the letter was the Commission’s Federal Register notice of its plan.

The tobacco company has gained added time, until Aug. 11, to file its reply brief; that will provide a chance to challenge not only the government brief, but also the impact, if any, of the FTC’s new approach.

Total Ban On Public Smoking in India

The Statesman

Total ban on public smoking from 2 October

NEW DELHI/PATNA, July 11: Smoking in public and private buildings across the country will be “completely banned’ from 2 October, according to a release issued by the Union ministry of health and family welfare here today. From 2 October smoking will not be allowed anywhere “except in selected open spaces like on roads and in parks and nowhere else”, the Union health minister, Dr Ambumani Ramadoss, also announced while addressing the media in Patna after inaugurating a day-long seminar to mark ‘World Population Day’. The ban will be enforced in clubs, restaurants, shopping malls, movie theatres and even inside individual homes, he added. The concerned Act, he warned, has been made more stringent and violators will be strictly punishable under the IPC.

Quoting latest data from his ministry, Dr Ramadoss said while smokers in the West, including USA, UK, Australia and France, had reduced by more than 25 per cent during the last couple of years, in India the number, unfortunately, had gone up by about 20 per cent a year. The government, he said, had no option but to make legislation against smoking more stringent.

Referring to the dangers of smoking and chewing of tobacco, Dr Ramadoss said in order to effectively impose the nationwide ban the Centre had allocated Rs 500 crore during the current fiscal under the National Anti-Tobacco Mission.

Licensing Smokers A Healthy Option

The Courier Mail – July 7, 2008 – Professor Simon Chapman

You need a licence to drive. A licence to buy a gun. You can’t legally go fishing without a licence, or own a dog. But smoking?

Provided you are over 18 you can buy as many cigarettes as you like – no questions asked. Why not license smokers?

After all, doctors issue tens of thousands of temporary licences every day in the form of prescriptions to allow us to access drugs that can save lives and improve health.

Critics scoff at the idea, arguing that there would be too many difficulties in policing it, or that an underground market for cigarettes would develop.

Given that obtaining a licence for other activities is so straightforward, these arguments hold little weight.

Introducing a smoker-licensing scheme could be readily managed by allowing all current adult smokers over the age of 18 to acquire a permit. To be eligible, smokers would need to have their doctor affirm that they are smokers and then apply for a photo ID swipecard.

Any new smokers wanting a licence after the scheme’s starting date would be required to take a test, proving they fully understood the many health risks of smoking.

ID cards could be swiped at stores to limit the number of cigarette packs that could be bought at a time. Two packs a day maximum, say. This would help to minimise a blackmarket of cigarettes being sold on to unlicensed or under-age smokers.

And, just as for a driving licence, smokers would need to renew their commitment to smoking every five years. Or, if a smoker successfully quit they could permanently surrender their licence and be offered a full refund of their licensing fee, another incentive to quit. Tourists could show their passports and return tickets and be allowed to buy.

Most smokers want to quit. Nearly all regret starting. As part of the licensing scheme, smokers could have the option to sign on to receive Quit smoking information or be regularly contacted by Quit counsellors. This support would be directly funded by the licensing scheme and quash concerns that it is nothing more than another cash cow for the government.

Smoker licensing could first be trialled in an interested remote or small community. Evaluating and altering the scheme as necessary before rolling it out nationally just makes good sense. Critics could rest easy knowing a failed trial will make little difference to most smokers.

Smoking kills some 15,000 Australians every year, half in middle age. Compare this with the annual road toll of 1600 deaths.

We license drivers because we recognise that safe driving requires skills and experience. Licensing smokers is a way of ensuring that all smokers have a competent level of knowledge about the wide range of potentially fatal health effects. Licensing smokers is just one more way of reducing the tremendous health and social burden of tobacco use.

Even tobacco companies should love the idea because no one could sue, saying they didn’t know the risks they were taking: they would have passed the test.

Ex-Smokers – One Year After The Ban

The Mirror UK – July 7, 2008 – Kate Jackson

It’s a year since the smoking ban came in.

And since England’s pubs, bars, restaurants and clubs became smoke-free zones it’s reckoned 234,000 have given up completely with the help of the NHS.

For the average 20-a-day smoker that means a very healthy saving of £1,800 since July 1, 2007.

But what does an ex-smoker do with their extra dosh? Here, three proud quitters tell us how they spent their fag money.


June Whitehouse, 45, a food sales rep from Stafford, is splashing out on a trip of a lifetime to New Zealand to see her cousin, Susan.

I’d been smoking since I was 15 and had tried to quit on several occasions. So when I found Allen Carr’s Easyway To Stop Smoking on the internet, I was intrigued. I went to the seminar thinking, ‘How can this work?’ But it did.

I used to smoke between 20 and 25 cigarettes a day, so I must have spent £40 a week. If you add up all the thousands of duty-free ciggies I brought back from holidays, I would have spent much more.

My cousin Susan, pictured above with me, emigrated to New Zealand last November and I’m dying to go and see her.

She lives in Auckland with her husband Anthony, son Ryan and daughter Lorna, who is also my goddaughter.

Susan and I are very close – more like sisters than cousins. I’ve bought tickets for myself and my husband Ade – plus my aunt and uncle – to go on a trip to Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand for three weeks.

I think the flights cost about £2,000, so that’s where my smoking money has gone. Funnily enough, I used to think I was afraid of flying. But since I’ve stopped smoking, I’ve realised that maybe it was more of a fear of going without a cigarette for the journey.


Dawn Tuckwell, 25, who works in communications in London, bought a Madonna-style exercise machine.

I quit the week before the ban started. If I could survive the week while people were still smoking in pubs and restaurants, then I could definitely do it during the ban.

I was on 15 Marlboro Lights a day for six years. I tried – and failed – to stop five times.

I felt unhealthy and didn’t want to be any more. I used to be so fit before I started smoking. I was disgusted with myself.

I was also buying a flat with a friend who has asthma so knew I couldn’t smoke in the new place.

So, without patches or replacements, I stopped.

I told everyone, which helped. And when people had fag breaks at work, I’d make a cup of tea instead.

Loose change that would have gone on cigarettes, I put in an enormous pink piggy bank instead. I made a point of putting in £1 and £2 coins, so I knew there’d be a lot in there.

Last month, I broke it open and was amazed that there was £800 – which went straight on my Power Plates exercise machine.

I’d wanted one for years and because I have back pain, the vibrating machine is one of the only things which eases it.

Now I’m toned, I’ve lost four inches off my hips and I feel so much healthier.


Expectant mum Nadine Smith, 27, from Manchester, has used the spare cash to buy everything she needs for her first baby, due in six weeks.

My fiance and I didn’t have a single thing for the baby before I quit smoking. We had to start right from scratch, buying everything from the pram, the cot, clothes, nappies…

I reckon I’ve put away around £900 from what would have been my smoking money so far and it’s all gone towards baby stuff, without us needing to use any other money. And everything else I save will go on the baby!

I started smoking when I was 13, mainly because of peer pressure and by the time my 14th birthday came around, I was a regular smoker. But I wish now I’d never picked up that first fag.

When it came to giving up, I went to the Manchester Stop Smoking clinic where I saw my support worker, Christine, once a fortnight and she called me up every couple of days to see how I was coping. I also used the nicotine patches, but I wouldn’t have been able to give up smoking without the ban. Now, I can go out to a pub or restaurant and there’s nothing to remind me of smoking.

I feel so much healthier and we’re both just looking forward to our baby. The money I’ve saved has gone to the best possible present – our baby.

Smoking ban in numbers

-2bn Fewer ciggies smoked in England and Wales since the ban

-175m Fewer pints drunk in England and Wales post-ban

-4: Number of pubs forced to close every day, with many blaming the ban

-22% of population who still smoke, down from 24 per cent


10 a day -£912.50

20 a day -£1,825

30 a day- £2,737.50

40 a day -£3,650

Call For Smoking Controls

5th July 2008 – SCMP

Cigarette smoking among US teenagers is no longer declining, after dropping steadily from 1997 to 2003, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Smoking by secondary school students (14 to 18-year-olds) dropped by 45 per cent in 10 years, from 36.4 per cent in 1997 to 20 per cent in 2007. However, the decline had stalled and the CDC recommended tobacco-control programmes be “revitalised”. AP

Anti-Smoking Restrictions In Japan

Smokers face more and more anti-smoking restrictions in Japan

The Earth Times – July 4, 2008

Another smokers’ paradise in Asia is disappearing as Japanese smokers face ever more restrictions in the nation’s effort to join the global anti-smoking campaign. Japan used to be a smokers’ haven with very few laws and restrictions. Commuters lit up on station platforms morning, noon and night. People smoked while strolling around and at work.

Cigarettes are available in vending machines and convenience stores on every street corner.

But since the United States spearheaded the global anti-smoking campaign, the former smoker’s paradise has become uncomfortable for the 43.3 per cent of Japanese men and 12 per cent of women who smoke.

First, the price of cigarettes went up to an average 3 dollars per pack, which is still cheap compared to the prices in other parts of the world.

Train stations limited hours of smoking to non-commuting hours because platforms were becoming too crowded and non-smokers feared they might suffocate on the open platforms.

Then Tokyo districts began banning smoking outdoors. No-smoking signs began appearing on the streets of Tokyo, and police roamed the suburbs handing out tickets to the ordinance violators.

Many cities across Japan have since adopted the non-smoking ordinance. A fine of up to 20,000 yen (186 dollars) applies in most places.

Smokers can now only light up in closed booths, set up by the city council on the streets and near train stations.

Restaurants and bars in Japan still allow people to smoke. But they have begun designating sections of their premises as smoking areas in a bid to join the global health movement.

Legal gambling establishments or Pachinko parlors, which were hitherto famous for a smoker-friendly atmosphere, have also jumped onto the “clean environment” bandwagon.

Their policy is “smoke-free, noise-free” pinball.

The ultimate blow to smokers takes effect throughout Japan in early July when the Tobacco Institute of Japan introduces an identification card called Taspo to buy cigarettes from vending machines.

The card must have photo identification. Those of a legal age to smoke, 20 and over, will soon receive the rechargeable cards.

It may be easier and more convenient for smokers to just flash the Taspo card at a machine, but many have felt burdened by the idea of filling out an application form together with photo ID.

Cigarettes are still available at individual tobacco stores and 24-hour convenience stores in Japan, which do not require ID. Some experts wonder what Taspo can accomplish in this environment.

Japan Franchise Association in May reported a 15.9-per-cent increase in non-food sales, which include sales of tobacco, compared to a year before.

The association said the Taspo requirement helped boost tobacco sales at franchise convenience stores as some provinces began setting up Taspo-only vending machines in May.

Nonetheless, as the smoker’s paradise slowly disappears amid all the restrictions, the nation’s smokers are gagging for some air, space and freedom to light up.