A world first 'tobacco-free generation' bill will be introduced in Tasmanian Parliament today, which could ban tobacco sales to people born after 2000.
The Tasmanian government is considering ruling out banning tobacco sales to people born after 2000.
Independent Legislative Council member Ivan Dean was preparing the private member's bill and said the aim was not to penalise the young smoker but to clamp down on the supply side.
The 2000 Smoke-Free Generation initiative had secured the backing of Tasmania's independent upper house, the Legislative Council and will be scrutinised by the state government.
The initiative, brought to Australia by a University of Singapore academic, meant that those who turn 18 in 2018 would be unable to purchase cigarettes.
Penalties would be imposed on anyone caught supplying tobacco to the "tobacco-free generation" whether a retailer or an individual.
The necessary legislative change would require an amendment to the Health Act.
The Tasmanian branch of the Australian Medical Association has backed the move and Imperial Tobacco Australia has been meeting with members of the Legislative Council this week to outline the industry's case against a push to ban tobacco sales to younger generations.
Imperial Tobacco head of corporate affairs, Andrew Gregson, said Mr Dean needed to learn from history that prohibition doesn't work and leads to black markets and criminal activity.
In a statement, Mr Gregson said:
“Mr Dean's proposal is neither sensible nor practical. If he is successful, he will merely punish Tasmanian retailers. Tobacco consumers will either buy from interstate or - worse still - move to the illicit market that is already a problem in Australia.”
He said the ban would hit Tasmanian retailers hardest, because people would be forced to buy online from interstate.
He said the ban could seriously affect up to 1000 Tasmanian retailers for whom tobacco sales were a significant proportion of their turnover.
Closer to a third, or 30.6 per cent, of 18-24 year old Tasmanians smoke, according to Tasmania Medicare Local.
The Island state had the second highest rate of smokers in the country, behind the Northern Territory.
It is understood Singapore and Finland are the only other jurisdictions considering such a law.
If the bill is approved, Australia would become the first country to ban tobacco sales to some generations and not others.