Tasmania's quest to be Australia's healthiest state by 2025 will be pushed forward if proposed tobacco-free generation (TFG) legislation is passed, according to the authors of an editorial published online today in the Medical Journal of Australia.
Tasmania's smoking rates are above the national average, reflecting the state's lower socioeconomic status and a long term lack of investment in tobacco control strategies, wrote Professor E Haydn Walters and Kathryn Barnsley from the University of Tasmania.
"Currently in Tasmania around 40% of younger men smoke. Male smoking rates have not fallen significantly for 10 years, and are 50% greater than nationally", they wrote.
Independent member of the Legislative Council Ivan Dean has now introduced the Public Health Amendment (Tobacco-free Generation) Bill to the Tasmanian Parliament, and its "workability" is being considered by a committee. The "aspiration" is supported by the state Government.
Tasmania's current under-18 law already prevents tobacco from being sold to people born in 2000 or later. That restriction expires on 1 January 2018.
"However, with TFG legislation, the restriction will simply continue", Walters and Barnsley wrote. "Thus, retailers will never be allowed to sell cigarettes to anyone born this century, although the law will be reviewed after 3 and 5 years.
"Cigarettes will become a 'so last century' phenomenon."
This is essential given the "insidious psychology" used by the tobacco industry, which tells adolescents that "kids don't smoke", so that they will do just that, in order to appear adult, the authors wrote.
"The [TFG] initiative seeks to undermine the rite-of-passage effect by progressively raising the minimum age at which retailers can legally sell people cigarettes.
"Tasmania is the first jurisdiction in the world to craft such mould-breaking legislation."
"The rest of world will soon follow another bold Australian initiative against the global tobacco nightmare", the authors concluded.