After the introduction of the US’s very successful Tobacco 21 laws, Australian policymakers are considering raising the age as well. But is it the right thing to do?
Anti-smoking groups in Tasmania are pushing for the legal age to purchase tobacco to be increased to 21 from 18.
If the law is passed, Tasmania would become the first Australian state to do so.
A bill that would ban the sale of cigarettes to people under 21 will be introduced into parliament this year.
They draw inspiration from the Tobacco 21 (T21) laws in the United States, which raised the federal minimum age for sale of tobacco products from 18 to 21.
Studies of the law’s effectiveness showed an incredible 47 per cent reduction in high school use of tobacco in the town – Needham, Massachusetts – where the laws were first introduced.
It’s been discussed before, but the Tasmanian Liberal government recently rejected the idea of raising the age, believing it would lead to a tobacco black market, but incredibly, that never happened.
“One would think the kids there would just get on their bicycles and go to a nearby town and buy their smokes but that’s not what happened,” regional director of US Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation Shannon Quinby told the ABC.
“The opposite happened. Over a period of two or three years, smoking rates went down dramatically.”
Then again, social media and internet access was not in 2005 what it is today so it’s unclear whether that would have an effect on teens acquiring tobacco products.
Australia’s smoking laws are indeed a touch puzzling.
While at 18, you can legally purchase cigarettes, there is in fact no age that is prohibited from the act of smoking. This law proposes introducing an age limit to both.
Do you think Tasmania is onto something here? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.