Tas’ Health Minister opposing anti-smoking legislation

In Australian Cultural Exports, Australian Domestic Tourism, Government, National Headlines, Tasmania

Tasmania’s Health Minister describes as unworkable a bill to outlaw cigarette sales to those born in, or after, year 2000

Tasmania’s Health Minister Michael Ferguson has described as unworkable an Upper House MP’s bid to outlaw cigarette sales to anyone born in, or after, the year 2000.

The Legislative Council is debating MLC Ivan Dean’s private member’s bill to ban the sale of tobacco to anyone born from January 1 of that year.

Mr Ferguson supported the goal but questioned how the ban would be enforced and whether people could be treated differently, based on their age.

“I do think there are some practical issues with that,” he said.

“Naturally, we’re following the debate with interest but at this stage the Government is not convinced that the proposal can work in practice.”

While the legislation would ban tobacco retailers from selling cigarettes to that age group, family and friends could still pass them on.

MLC Tania Rattray said that sent a mixed message.

“You’re unable to purchase but you’re able to light up,” she said.

Ms Rattray is one of two MLCs to declare their opposition to the bill so far, while five are in favour.

Speaking at a cancer council function, Former Tasmanian Health Minister Roger Groom doubted the ban would work.

“It’s still much more about people making the choice themselves,” he said.

Mr Dean said the latest figures found 700 Tasmanians died from tobacco each year.

Mr Dean rejected suggestions that his bid to create a “tobacco-free generation” would lead to an increase in cigarette smuggling.

MLC Greg Hall said a gradual introduction of the ban would deter black marketeers.

“Until 2018, he will have no market that doesn’t exist already,” he said.

Mr Dean has urged MLCs not to succumb to the tobacco lobby’s scare campaign, including predictions that smuggling would increase.

“This shows just how much grasping at straws is occurring,” Mr Dean told the Legislative Council.

“These kids will still be able to smoke and they will still be able to source tobacco products lawfully so why would there be any need for smuggling?

“And besides, with just a few hundred falling into the category each year it’s quite a ludicrous notion.”

Mr Dean said his chain-smoking father died at 65 of “tobacco poisoning”.

“The last years of his life were absolute agony, wheezing, hacking cough with severe breathing problems.”

A vote on the proposal has been delayed with the bill now to be considered by a Legislative Council committee.

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