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Time to raise the minimum purchasing age for tobacco in Australia

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Increasing the minimum purchasing age may be the most straightforward way towards a tobacco-free generation

Australia is often described as a global leader in tobacco control. While this is true, it has taken two generations to reduce current smoking rates to around 15% of the population, and there is still a long way to go, especially in disadvantaged communities.

Tasmania’s tobacco-free generation

One innovative idea on the road towards minimising smoking rates is currently before the Parliament of Tasmania. Put simply, passage of the Public Health Amendment (Tobacco-free Generation) Bill 20141 would ensure that people born after 1999 could not lawfully purchase tobacco at retail outlets within Tasmania in their lifetimes.2

The Tobacco-free Generation Bill was introduced into the Legislative Council by independent member Ivan Dean, whose father was a chain smoker and who suffered terribly before dying from lung cancer.2 The Bill is currently being considered by a Parliamentary Committee, and public submissions can be viewed online.3

The Tobacco-free Generation Bill defines a member of the tobacco-free generation as “a person born on or after 1 January 2000”.1 Although the Bill does not prohibit smoking…