Debate Over Whether Legal Smoking Should Be Raised

By Kelly Smith

Philanthropist and mining giant Andrew Forest is requesting state governments to raise the legal smoking age to 21.

Mr Forest says it will save 15000 lives and Australia 20billion in health costs per year.

Cigarette costs have already increased this year, with greater taxation on packs of cigarettes,

Kelly Kennington from the Cancer council says, while anything we can do to delay smoking in young people is welcomed, raising the costs of cigarettes is one of the single biggest things we can do to reduce smoking.

“Each year smoking costs billions to the WA community, not just in health care costs but in social costs as well. So any measures to reduce smoking is going to have an enormous benefit to the WA community”

Ms Kennington insists initiatives that are known to work should not be put on the back bench for measures, such as raising the legal smoking age.

Tax increases is the biggest thing we can do to help reduce the affect of tobacco on the WA community. Following each tax increase there has been a significant reduction in the number of people who smoke.

Deputy Premier and Health minister Roger Cook says while we need to work towards a generation of non smokers, the WA government is not currently looking at raising the legal smoking age.

But he insists that the government is reviewing the Tobacco control act, with the intention of reducing the harmful impacts smoking has on our community.

“All of these things need to be done in balance, and its a complex issue, so you can’t come to it with a single measure. But you do need to have a range of measures, all of which contribute to driving down the incidence of tobacco use our community.

“We know that every time we get someone off tobacco or someone avoids becoming addicted to tobacco in the first place, that we can continue to improve the health of the community and the cost to the community, in regards to health services is vastly reduced as well.”

The government says this is a complex issue that will not be solved by a single measure, instead a range of initiatives will be needed to drive down the use of tobacco in the community.

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