Some say the convenience of vending machines itself is a problem in that anyone of any age can buy things from them. Since 2008, the majority of tobacco vending machines have featured a “Taspo” age verification unit with an IC card system. Until then, however, anyone could buy cigarettes without any verification.
As for the situation regarding alcohol vending machines, the alcoholic beverages industry has started to replace old machines with ones that require purchasers to present either a driver’s license or an ID magnetic card as well as their self-imposed restraint. However, because it has not been legislated by law, a small number of the old vending machines – without age verification systems – still remain in the streets.
There is another growing concern over the electricity consumption of the machines. Particularly, drink vending machines, which run 24 hours a day in order to keep drinks hot and cold, have come in for harsh criticism.
The vending machine industry has already developed a technology called “zone cooling,” which can quickly and intensively cool down the products to be sold. There has also been a drive to try to cut energy by using automatic lighting systems with sensors, and by reducing the brightness of the lighting. Thanks to such initiatives, in 2005 the industry finally succeeded in cutting the annual electricity usage per vending machine by half, compared with the energy use statistics in 1990.