Anyone who's ever been to Japan (or any part of Asia for that matter) will know that smoking is almost a national obsession - a full 50 per cent of adult men smoke and the numbers for women are rising. While this is of little concern to government health departments, preventing underage smoking is becoming an issue; one that's about to be tackled with good old RFID technology.

From March next year, the Tobacco Institute of Japan - an industry body concerned with making its members look like responsible firms - will begin a trial of IC-card-based vending machines that verify cigarette purchasers are over the legal smoking age of 20.

The smart cards, known as Taspo cards, will be available only to people able to prove their age through a passport or driving license and will eventually be required to use any of Japan's 620,000 cigarette vending machines. NTT DoCoMo also plans to include Taspo functionality in its phone handsets.

Limiting underage smoking is an obviously great idea but what's to stop anyone borrowing a card or phone if they really want a puff?