The Minderoo Foundation remains committed to increasing the legal purchasing age of tobacco in Tasmania and will advocate for the new laws to be passed in 2020.
A new advertising campaign in support of the proposed Tobacco21 legislation will be launched across Tasmania this weekend, funded by the Minderoo Foundation.
It comes as Tasmania’s Legislative Council yesterday debated the Tobacco21 Bill and voted down a motion to form a select committee.
Legislative Council members made clear their preference was to be led by the findings of the Menzies Institute for Medical Research, which is currently undertaking a study into attitudes towards Tobacco21 and its potential impact as a policy in Tasmania.
Tasmania has the second highest smoking rate in Australia, and a recent poll found 78 per cent of Tasmanians support Tobacco21. Minderoo Foundation adviser Bruce Mansfield believes public support will grow further over the course of the new campaign.
“Tasmanians agree there is a need for stronger tobacco prevention measures,” Mr Mansfield said.
“Our new campaign aims to keep tobacco control on the government and community’s agenda, as a reminder that we need to do more to protect our kids from addiction.”
The Honourable Independent Member Ivan Dean MLC, who tabled the bill, said although disappointed in the Legislative Council’s decision, he was pleased MPs acknowledged the importance of the Menzies Institute’s research.
“It’s frustrating that Tasmania continues to have a lack of action on Tobacco21, despite bipartisan recognition that we need to do more to protect young people from nicotine addiction, and the existing body of evidence supporting the effectiveness of this proposal,” Mr Dean said.
“If the government is truly committed to act following the completion of the Menzies Institute research, I am hopeful we will see Tobacco21 passed in 2020.
“I will now be encouraging the government to complete a regulatory impact statement on the proposed Tobacco21 Bill in the New Year.
“Tasmania’s smoking rates are shameful, and it is our responsibility to take action to prevent youth smoking.”
The Tobacco21 Bill is backed by health organisations, including the Australian Medical Association of Tasmania, the Lung Foundation, the Cancer Council, the Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Council Tasmania and SmokeFree Tasmania.
Associate Professor Seana Gall from the Menzies Institute for Medical Research said the research currently being conducted will provide an insight into how raising the sales age may work to reduce smoking rates in Tasmania.
“Research shows 95 per cent of smokers become addicted before the age of 21, when the developing brain is most vulnerable to the addictive effects of nicotine,” Associate Professor Gall said.
“The evidence tells us that raising the minimum sales age prevents youth smoking, as it moves tobacco peer supply away and out of high schools.”
The Tasmanian Government announced its intention to increase the legal age to buy tobacco back in 2015, before abandoning this reform in 2016.