By Nash’aa Nashid
The legal age for purchasing tobacco products in Australia could potentially be raised to 21 under a new campaign.
Philanthropist and magnate Andrew Forrest has pushed this incentive as part of the Eliminate Cancer Initiative, funded by Minderoo Foundation.
The ECI aims to take legal action against the tobacco industry, increase focus on cancer prevention and give patients access to more clinical trials.
Naomi Henderson, a 26-year-old general practice nurse from Fremantle identifies as an ex-smoker, smoking from the age of 12 to 22.
“Even though I was underage, it was still readily available from older friends and I could easily access it,” she said.
Ms Henderson believes that the initiative will do little to prevent young people from smoking.
“Education will be more effective, we need to increase awareness and have more harm reduction education rather than tell people don’t do it – it’s bad,” Ms Henderson said.
Currently the legal age for smoking in Australia is 18 and if anyone underage is caught smoking, police can confiscate cigarettes and other smoking products.
Devi Lalloo has worked in the health industry for 12 years and believes that while the campaign is a good move, there needs to be further repercussions for people who break the smoking laws.
“Raising the age is a good idea but we need to be mindful that it won’t stop them from smoking,” Ms Lalloo said.
According to Ms Lalloo educating youth about the dangers of smoking is the most important thing, as well as setting a good example.
“It is a good idea to target parents as kids often pick up bad habits from their parents,” Ms Lalloo said.
While the campaign aims to increase the purchasing age of tobacco products to 21, it has not been made clear if the legal age to smoke cigarettes will also increase.