The government considers lifting the legal smoking age to 21 or 25. Health Minister Michael Ferguson said that the proposal is part of the plan on reducing Tasmania’s high smoking rates, enabling the state to become Australia’s healthiest state by 2025.

“We are proposing that we lift the legal smoking age potentially above 18, to potentially 21 or potentially 25," Ferguson said. “We have unacceptably high rates of smoking, we know that every cigarette is doing you damage and, despite our best efforts through public health over a number of years, we're still nowhere near where we need to be.”

The Advocate reports that Tasmania has the country's highest rate of regular smokers, at 20.9 per cent of the population. Thirty-two per cent of Tasmanians aged 18 to 24 are daily or occasional smokers and one-third of teen mothers smoke during pregnancy.

"In the cohort of young people between 18 and 24, we know that about 32 per cent of those people are smoking," Cancer Council Tasmania CEO Penny Egan said. "That's double what that same cohort is doing in other states and territories. We need to get rid of that addiction [and] putting up the age may be one of the answers."

Tasmanian Health Council chairwoman Denise Fassett anticipates the public to have a hard time accepting the new age restriction. Nevertheless, she believes that this will benefit the entire community in the long run.

"Overall everyone understands that it would be better if none of us smoked," Fassett said. “We might have a targeted approach over a week, that's also an opportunity for all of Tasmania to provide written submissions."

Australian Medical Association's Tasmanian branch secretary Tim Greenaway praised the government’s goal. However, Greenaway also sees how the community will be challenged by this aspiration.

According to Greenaway, engaging with organisations like the health networks and other local government agencies for a whole of community approach to chronic conditions will improve the health of Tasmania.

Greenaway added that 100 percent of habitual smokers have started smoking by the age of 25. Smoking causes more deaths than drug and alcohol abuse combined. The state government's entire health plan is expected to be put out for community consultation on Feb. 19, 2016.

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