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Smoking's endgame: complete ban for 21st century kids?

Monday, 24 June 2013
Author: Kevin Naughton, Indaily

South Australian MPs are being lobbied to consider "endgame" smoking strategies that include a total ban on smoking for people born after 2000.

The controversial concept of phasing in a complete ban is also being considered by the Tasmanian parliament after first starting as a grassroots campaign in Singapore.

Former South Australian health minister John Hill has distributed to all MPs a parliamentary research paper he commissioned to look at the concept of an "endgame" for smoking.

"We are now getting to the point where relatively few people are smoking and the rate of people taking up smoking is declining," Hill said.

"A number of jurisdictions around the world have started talking about endgame strategies.

"This paper looks at those strategies and proposes some measures which might be taken by communities to make sure that the amount of smoking in the community is reduced and even get to the point where there is no smoking.

"That is something I think is worth considering and worth debating."

Latest figures show16 per cent of South Australians are regular smokers.

The research paper, compiled by the SA Parliamentary library's head researcher Dr John Weste, shows that while some strategies have been successful in reducing the rate, there are limits to their effect.

"The main reasons for smokers changing their behaviour in 2010 were either health or cost related... the impact of health warnings on cigarette packets declined from 19.4 per cent (saying it had an impact on their decision) in 2007 to 15.2 per cent in 2010," Weste's paper found.

The paper listed three proposals that aim to cut out smoking completely.

The first of these, "Smoke-free Singapore", started as an online campaign proposing that Singaporeans born after a specified date be denied access to tobacco products.

"The basic intent of this proposal is to overturn previous policies which deny minors access to tobacco products until a specified age is reached (currently, 18 years of age in Singapore)," the research paper said.

"No longer would access to tobacco being dependent upon an age limit, but instead access would be denied on the basis of a birth-date limit.

"In short, all Singaporeans born on or after 2000 would be denied access to tobacco for life."

The campaign argued that the phasing-out of tobacco could be achieved without the short-term disruption of an immediate ban.

"Current smokers retain their legal rights though their smoking-behaviour is clearly presented as something undesirable from which society is moving away thereby mitigating perceptions of attaining smoking-age as being a marker of adulthood," the campaign argued.

"Employees of tobacco-related industries have a lengthy period in which to find alternative employment."

The second campaign considered by the research paper was the 2011 New Zealand government's goal of being smoke-free by 2025.

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