Australian state considers raising smoking age to 21

Brooke Rolfe
·News Reporter
·2-min read

A bill that proposes to ban people under the age of 21 from buying cigarettes in one Australian state will be re-introduced to parliament this year.

Teenagers could soon be unable to purchase cigarettes in Tasmania in what campaigners hope will have a domino effect on the rest of the country.

The second reading of the Public Health Amendment (Prevention of Sale of Smoking Products to Underage Persons) Bill 2018 will be delivered by Independent MLC Ivan Dean in March.

The state’s Liberal government has previously proposed the age increase, however it was knocked back out of concern for cigarettes being sold on the black market.

A stock image of young people holding cigarettes.
People younger than 21 may be unable to buy cigarettes in Tasmania within months. Source: Getty Images

The same law, named Tobacco 21, was introduced on a federal level across the United States in December 2019.

It became illegal for retailers to sell any tobacco product to anyone under 21, instead of 18 as it was previously.

The legislation encapsulated cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, hookah tobacco, cigars, pipe tobacco, and electronic nicotine delivery systems including e-cigarettes and e-liquids.

New York was the first major city to introduce T21 in 2013, followed by Hawaii and California.

There was a 47 per cent reduction in high-school use of tobacco in a small Boston town, in the US state of Massachusetts, in 2005.

The result stunned authorities and helped form the basis of the law introduced 14 years later.

Out of eight scientific studies analysing the impact of the age increase in the US, Tasmanian-based Menzies Research Institute found five reduced smoking rates, ABC News reported.

“It's quite varied because of the differences in study design. The studies that found that it had a significant effect on smoking prevalence were those that were the most robust,” senior research fellow Seana Gall said.

Research conducted at the institute found people aged over 21 were less likely to supply cigarettes to minors than people aged between 18 and 21.

“It's creating a bigger gap between those people who are sort of experimenting with smoking and those people who can actually legally purchase the cigarettes,” Dr Gall said.

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