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Renewed Push To Raise Legal Smoking Age To 21 In Tasmania

Renewed Push To Raise Legal Smoking Age To 21 In Tasmania

Anti-smoking campaigners are hoping Tasmania re-examines laws and increase the smoking age to 21.

Since the US introduced successful Tobacco 21 laws, there has been a dramatic impact on smoking rates across the areas that have adopted the legislation.

The T21 laws first began in 2005 in Needham, a small town in Boston, Massachusetts and then other towns and cities started to fall like dominos.

There was a 47 per cent reduction in high school use of tobacco after the law was brought in, and now campaigners hope the same could be done in Australia.

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Experts reckon Tasmania could be that first 'domino'. Being an island state, campaigners reckon Tasmania is even better positioned for T21 than landlocked Needham.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

According to ABC, Independent MLC Ivan Dean 'will bring on the second reading of the Public Health Amendment (Prevention of Sale of Smoking Products to Underage Persons) Bill 2018 in March'.

The national broadcaster added that while the Liberal Government in Tasmania once proposed lifting the smoking age, it more recently has rejected the idea because of a fear of a rise in the tobacco black market.

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Dr Hartman hopes Tasmania would seriously consider the move, though he added that the rise of technology and vaping had made arguments that people would utilise the black market more compelling.

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"We did not see the black market with tobacco cigarettes in Needham...but there was not the internet access that there is now, there was not the social media."

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The Menzies Research Institute in Tasmania has since examined eight studies on T21 in the US, with five showing it did in fact reduce smoking rates.

"It's quite varied because of the differences in study design," said senior research fellow Seana Gall. "The studies that found that it had a significant effect on smoking prevalence were those that were the most robust.

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"It's creating a bigger gap between those people who are sort of experimenting with smoking and those people who can actually legally purchase the cigarettes."

However, the Small Business Council did not believe such a change would make a difference.

"I know for a fact that everybody under the age of 18 gets [tobacco] from family and friends and that is not going to change," said CEO Robert Mallett.

He added that legalising vaping was a better option.

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"Australia is one of the few places in the world not to have regulated and legalised its use which is a crying shame because harm reduction experts throughout the world recognise that vaping a nicotine liquid is significantly less harmful than burning tobacco paper and smoking it through a filter," he said.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Smoking, Australia

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