We thank Ms Liu I-Chun for her comments ("Cigarette dispenser an ad in itself"; Monday).
The machine piloted at a FairPrice Xpress store serves primarily to support the new tobacco legislation guidelines by keeping tobacco products out of the line of sight of customers.
Unlike a self-service vending machine, this machine does not serve as an "ad in itself", as suggested by Ms Liu.
In other words, customers cannot purchase or retrieve tobacco products directly from the machine, nor view the tobacco products being stored within.
Our cashiers continue to serve as the main point of contact for the sales of tobacco products and to verify against underage customers.
Also, by harnessing technology, this machine allows us to securely store the product while automating the tracking of inventory.
This saves our staff from a manual process which is both time-consuming and laborious.
FairPrice is supportive of the latest efforts by the Government to progressively denormalise tobacco use and discourage young people from picking up the smoking habit, by keeping tobacco products out of sight.
With this new system, thus far, we have, in fact, seen a reduction in the sales of tobacco products, as we had anticipated.
We are piloting this ahead of the new rules so that there is time to refine the process and work with the authorities to ensure a smooth enforcement of this legislation by March next year.
General Manager (Convenience)