Youth focus in smoking prevention package

Jeremy Rockliff,Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing

Smoking rates in Tasmania remain unacceptable and while we have made good inroads in reducing the rate of those taking up this deadly addiction, we know we must do more.

The Tasmanian Government acknowledges the hard work of the Member for Windermere Ivan Dean and his long pursuit to encourage Tasmanians to quit.

However after considerable discussion, the Government will not be supporting Mr Dean’s T21 bill, but will instead create a smoking prevention package targeted at young people in Year 6 and up.

We know the average age people start experimenting with smoking in Australia is 16, so the package will focus on ensuring young people have the information they need to make an informed decision on all the reasons why they shouldn’t take up the addictive substance by that age.

The Government will look to strengthen programs we already run aimed at youth, build upon the actions implemented as part of the Smoke Free Young People Strategy by increasing education and media around secondary supply, and reinstate infringement notices to enforce the ban on selling tobacco to a child.

I have also asked the Department of Health to undertake, as a priority, further research into what the most effective resources and programs are targeting young people from all backgrounds, and to work closely with the Department of Education in relation to how these could be delivered in our schools.

It is important any new programs are flexible enough to be tailored to the needs of individual school communities, this is consistent with the principles of the Department of Health’s No-one Left Behind Plan.

Our School Health Nurses already provide support to students around smoking, and this is an opportunity to turbo boost that work.

I look forward to being able to release more details about a final package in coming months. It is important that everything we do is evidence based.

With more than 500 Tasmanians dying each year from smoking related illnesses, we can’t afford not to tackle this important preventative health issue.

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