Campaigners proposed to ban tobacco sales to anyone born after 2000, hopeful that the bill will be adopted by an Australian state's parliament.
Under the bill, the island of Tasmania would lift the age at which people can legally buy cigarettes currently 18 a year at a time to achieve a "tobacco-free generation. Tuesday is the vote in the legislative council (upper house) of the Tasmanian parliament. I'm certainly hopeful," said Prof. Jon Berrick, Yale-NUS College in Singapore, who launched the initiative a decade ago said at an anti-tobacco conference in Abu Dhabi.
AdvertisementThe lower house will then have to adopt the bill, which would be implemented in 2018 if passed. In 2012, a recommendation that the government consider such a proposal was unanimously approved by Tasmania's upper house. The proposal does not aim to penalise smokers but rather targets suppliers, Berrick told AFP.
"It will stop the commercial supply of tobacco to people born this century." Tobacco industries are already "fighting this measure hard," he said, accusing them of lobbying retailers against the measure. "It's going to bite. Thats why the tobacco industry is keen to oppose it," he added.
He says more than 60 people a month die from tobacco in Tasmania, compared with two deaths from illicit drugs, five from traffic accidents and nine from alcohol.
Dr Adrian Reynolds, the president-elect of the chapter of addiction medicine at the Royal Australian College of Physicians said he is "optimistic that the bill will be passed in the legislative council. We are unsure right now whether there is sufficient support for it to be passed in the lower house and then ultimately as legislation," he told AFP.
But he vowed to press on, describing the proposal as "the next breakthrough in addressing the uptake of smoking among young people."
The bill will not just cut supplies for younger generations, "more importantly, it will change social norms" and dramatically reduce access to tobacco over the years, said Reynolds. He insists that adoption of this proposal in Tasmania will prompt similar moves worldwide through the domino effect.
Australia's federal government has introduced plain packaging to help curb smoking rates.