What is it with these people! There is a ready made solution to the issue of under-age sales, namely the radio controlled vending machine (see demonstration here). The idea is very simple: you show the bar staff or other supervisor of the machine ID, and the bar staff activates the machine. Activation works for a single sale. No tokens are issued, to be sold on to kids or left lying about. What could possibly go wrong? Ask the Scottish Government:
The Scottish government argued that vending machines could not involve age checks - unlike sales of alcohol or fireworks. (BBC report, emphasis added)Well, that's fiddlesticks. Note 'could not': once again it suits the Scottish Government for the Scottish public to be worse than incompetent in exercising their responsibilities. Having worked in retail I can say there is no difference between checking ID for tobacco and checking it for alcohol. You just do it. It isn't difficult. The idea that it can't be done is medieval (rather like denying that secondary smoke can't be removed by applying the necessary technology).
It is worth noting that the Scottish Government celebrates the use of technology. Well, it says it does, and in certain contexts – such as 'telehealthcare' – it does. Let's hear it:
“The strategy will say that we will not be looking to deploy one solution for one problem. We will look to promote not just health but wellbeing. We will empower people to make services, [provide] information and [have] the wider community accessible to them and we have to deliver value,” said [the director of the Scottish Centre for Telehealth and Telecare].
Technology is an “enabler”, he explained.But not when the wrong people want to use it, to show that a restrictive piece of legislation is not needed. Then it simply doesn't work.
Let's remember that in taking away vending machines we are robbing kids of the most expensive way to get their hands on tobacco that exists in the marketplace. Any kid that can outsmart a vending machine is not going to be put off by their removal as a potential source, especially when, within a few years, kids will have no memories of them. They'll just go elsewhere for tobacco, which is what most of them were doing all along anyway.