An Australian billionaire has made it his mission to increase the smoking age across the country from 18 to 21 in a bid to reduce the staggering number of people addicted to tobacco.
Andrew Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation officially launched a campaign on Friday in Tasmania in hopes of gaining support for the Tobacco 21 bill which is due to be read in parliament for the second time in August, The Australian reports.
The campaign aims to increase the legal purchasing age of tobacco products, while highlighting the harmful effects of smoking addiction in a bid to prevent future generations from taking up the habit.
Speaking to The Australian about the campaign, Minderoo Foundation Eliminate Cancer Adviser Bruce Mansfield said they have been working closely with state and federal governments on increasing the legal age and plan to gather research throughout the campaign to support the change.
“I have heard from other state health ministers that they would like to see more evidence around the benefits to come from it, both here and internationally, and they would like to see a coordinated approach,” he told the publication.
“If we can show good evidence around the benefits from implementing T21 in Tasmania, we can call on other states to implement it.”
Tobacco 21 legislation is currently in place in more than 450 cities and countries across 27 states in the US and according to the foundation has become a proven tobacco control mechanism in places such as California and Singapore.
It is for this reason Mansfield said it’s important to follow suite and lift the age to limit the likeliness of smoking addiction into the future.
“History tells us if they get to 21 without smoking, they are far less likely to start and could avoid becoming lifelong customers of big tobacco,” he told The Australian.
Previous studies by the Minderoo Foundation have found the majority of Aussies are in support of lifting the legal age for purchasing cigarettes with more than seven in 10 voters in each state in favour of the change.
A staggering 81 per cent of voters in New South Wales want to see the minimum age increased, along with 79 per cent of those in Victoria, 81 per cent of Western Australians and 73 per cent of Tasmanians.
“Australia has been a world-leader in tobacco control,” Mansfield said in a statement. “We must continue to implement innovative policies to prevent vulnerable Australians from taking up smoking, drive down smoking rates and ultimately prevent thousands of premature deaths.”
He added: “Introducing T21 is a proven tobacco control innovation that has worked in other jurisdictions and should be introduced across Australia.”
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