Tasmania could be the first Australian state to increase the legal smoking age

Photo by Scott Barbour / Getty Images.

Tasmania could become the first state in Australia to increase the legal tobacco smoking age from 18 years to 21, or 25.

The proposal has been included in the government’s five-year preventative health plan to make Tasmania Australia’s healthiest state by 2025.

Tasmania currently has the second highest rates of smokers in Australia – with around 20% of Tasmanians smoking – despite it being one of the least populated states, only bigger than the Northern Territory and the ACT.

“We have unacceptably high rates of smoking,” said the state’s health minister Michael Ferguson.

“Despite our best efforts through public health over a number of years, we’re still nowhere near where we need to be.

“We’ve got to own up to this and be willing to have a genuine community debate.”

Current national legislation prevents Australians under 18 years from buying, smoking or possessing cigarettes.

The Tasmanian government’s full plan will released for public consultation until February 2016.

Tasmania was also the first Australian state to introduce a total indoor smoking ban in January 2006. This was followed by a ban on smoking in cars with passengers under the age of 18 in 2008, and a ban on smoking in outdoor restaurants since 2012.

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