Mom who lent son taspo faces charge

Kyodo

Police turned over to prosecutors Monday their case against a 41-year-old mother who allegedly loaned her taspo cigarette ID card to her teenage son so he could access cigarette machines.

According to the police, the case is the first to be turned over to prosecutors involving the use of the ID system. Lending a taspo card to a minor violates the law against underage smoking.

The taspo system will be fully introduced nationwide July 1 to help prevent teenagers from smoking. Except for the Kanto region and Okinawa, cigarette machines that work only when accessed with a taspo card have been in operation for a few months.

Only adults are eligible to use the ID cards, which have embedded IC chips containing the identities of the holders.

People have to apply for a card and include verification of their age. Police said the mother’s taspo was issued in April, even though she does not smoke. She is suspected of allowing her 15-year-old son to buy cigarettes with the ID specifically on May 12. They live in Minami Ward, Fukuoka, police said.

“I thought the card, with a photo of my face on it, could be used as an ID for other purposes,” she was quoted as saying. “Besides, I thought I could lend it to my son.”

The taspo system is widely seen as a weak solution to the underage smoking problem. The card is not required when purchasing cigarettes in stores.