The US has passed national legislation to raise the minimum age to purchase cigarettes, e-cigarettes and other tobacco products to 21, amid nationwide concern about increasing use among young people.
The move, by President Trump on Friday, has renewed calls in Australia for Tasmania to legislate Tobacco 21.
Tasmania, which has some of the highest smoking rates in the country, is considering Tobacco 21 after the bill was proposed by Independent MLC Ivan Dean earlier this year.
In America, the appetite for national legislation has grown over the last decade. Since 2015, 15 states have passed their own Tobacco 21 legislation.
Tasmania could lead Australia’s national tobacco control policy if Tobacco 21 passes next year.
In the US, public health advocates have praised the progression of Tobacco 21, saying national coverage will reduce young people’s access to tobacco and vaping products, by moving the minimum sales age beyond high school.
US Western Regional Director of the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation, Ginny Chadwick, visited Australia in October to speak with government and health officials about introducing Tobacco 21.
“In five years, the U.S. has gone from 2 per cent to 100 per cent coverage of Tobacco 21 through local, state, and now, the passage of federal Tobacco21 laws,” Ms Chadwick said.
“From my time in Tasmania I know that the appetite for change is there. Tobacco 21 is a proven tobacco control policy which prevents the uptake of the addictive, deadly tobacco products by kids and young adults. I believe that Australia could follow the US with Tobacco 21, but it needs state-led legislation to get started.”
Minderoo Foundation adviser Bruce Mansfield congratulated the United States and urged Australia’s health ministers to consider the policy.
“Tasmania is poised, ready to lead Australia in tobacco control. High smoking rates and consistent compliance from local retailers make Tasmania the perfect site for Tobacco 21,” Mr Mansfield said.
“Australia has been a leader in tobacco prevention globally and needs to maintain this position by embracing Tobacco 21. There is a significant evidence which shows Tobacco 21 effectively addresses the threat cigarettes and e-cigarettes pose to our young people. The time for action is now.”