Australian state Tasmania could raise its legal smoking age to 21 - or 25.
Unveiled as part of the government’s Healthy Tasmania proposal, it is hoped the plan will reduce the state's high smoking rate - which is only second behind the Northern Territory, despite being one of the least populated states.
The consultation draft has been put forward by the state’s health minister, Michael Ferguson. It is included in the state’s five year preventative health plan in a bid to make Tasmania the healthiest Australian state by 2025.
The National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2013 found 19.3 per cent of Tasmanian adults smoked daily, while the national average rate was 13.3 per cent.
If successful, the move would be a first for Australia, while several US cities have already increased the legal smoking age to 21. Needham in Massachusetts changed the age to 21 in 2005 and New York City followed in 2013. Hawaii will also up the age from January 1, 2016.
In a statement accompanying the report, Mr Furgeson said: “We have unacceptably high rates of smoking.
“International evidence supports raising minimum legal smoking age as a means of targeting the most at-risk age category for smoking uptake.
“Studies show that most smokers take up the habit before the age of 25.
"There would be significant health benefits for the community and savings to the health system over time if the rate of people taking up smoking was reduced."
It is currently against the law for Australians under the age of 18 to buy, smoke or possess cigarettes.
The state was also the first to introduce a total indoor smoking ban in January 2006, followed by a ban on smoking in cars with passengers under the age of 18 in 2008 and a ban on smoking at outdoor restaurants since 2012.
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