Dec 21, 2015 10:54 PM EST
With the increasing prevalence of smoking especially among teenagers, the Tasmanian government is considering a proposal of increasing the minimum legal age for smoking from 18 to either 21 or 25.
State's Prime Minister Michale Ferguson admitted that this has become the focal point of the Healthy Tasmania paper. And if this is given support, a draft legislation will be written to modify the Public Health Act.
Although this move has been initiated by a number of American states, this is Australia's first. Ten years ago, Needham City in Massachussetts raised the minimum age requirement to 21. Other state like New York did the same amendment 2 years ago, and in Hawaii, the new policy will take effect on the first day next year.
Ferguson defended that this aims to help prevent at-risk age targets. Research previously suggested that majority of the smokers adopt to the habit even before reaching 25.
Moreover, the government aims to see health benefits in the smokers their selves and the community around. The move will also result to reduced health-related expenses due to smoking.
Tasmania ranks second on Australia's rate of smoking. National Drug Strategy Household Survey revealed that Tasmania's smoking rate (19.3 percent) exceeds that of the national rate (13.3 percent). Of the smokers, young adults top the list with 3.4 percent from 12 to 17 years and a fourfold increase (13.4 percent) between 18 and 24 years.
A health policy professor Mike Daube from Curtin University praised the new policy saying that the Tasmanian government is indeed taking necessary measures against smoking. He further said that specific measures are needed as the country's smoking rate is way higher than a number of countries. However, he clearly pointed out that the most challenging part is actually the implementation or to ensure that everyone strictly complies with the law.
This proposal is allegedly an inspiration from MP Ivan Dea who proposed a "tobacco-free generation." "We are very supportive of any initiative that's going to reduce smoking rates or prevent people from taking up the habit," Tasmania's Cancer Council Penny Egan said.
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