Campaign hopes for Tasmanian tobacco-free

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Photo Bocchino

Abu Dhabi [AFP]

Campaigners for a proposed law to ban tobacco sales to anyone born after 2000 say they are hopeful the bill will be adopted by Tasmania’s parliament next week.

Under the bill, Tasmania would lift the age at which people can legally buy cigarettes – currently 18 – a year at a time to achieve a ‘tobacco-free generation’.

‘Tuesday is the vote in the legislative council [upper house] of the Tasmanian parliament … I’m certainly hopeful,’ Jon Berrick, a professor at Yale-NUS College in Singapore, who launched the initiative a decade ago, said at an anti-tobacco conference in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

The lower house will then have to adopt the bill, which would be implemented in 2018 if passed.

In 2012, a recommendation that the government consider such a proposal was unanimously approved by Tasmania’s upper house.

The proposal does not aim to penalise smokers but rather targets suppliers, Berrick told AFP.

‘It will stop the commercial supply of tobacco to people born this century.’

Tobacco industries are already ‘fighting this measure hard’, he said, accusing them of lobbying retailers against the measure.

He says more than 60 people a month die from tobacco in Tasmania, compared with two deaths from illicit drugs, five from traffic accidents and nine from alcohol.

Dr Adrian Reynolds, the president-elect of the chapter of addiction medicine at the Royal Australian College of Physicians, said he is ‘optimistic that the bill will be passed in the legislative council’.

‘We are unsure right now whether there is sufficient support for it to be passed in the lower house and then ultimately as legislation,’ he told AFP.

But he vowed to press on, describing the proposal as ‘the next breakthrough in addressing the uptake of smoking among young people’.

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