Smokers in Tasmania have one more motivation to stop smoking, as the island state, which already has the most rigorous anti-smoking laws, is planning to prohibit smoking completely.
The proposal was brought forward by councillors in Burnie, in north-western Tasmania, coming after a discussion paper presented by the state government, which plans to decrease smoking rate, the largest in Australia.
In spite of the image of a green island, one person in four smokes each day, in comparison with a national average of 17%.
All those smokers are becoming rather detached: the state capital, Hobart, prohibited smoking from the city center four months ago, and another largest city, Launceston, also decided to implement such a ban.
Other councils are examining a civil complaint, and there are also demands for smoking to be banned on the island’s beaches. In case Burnie City Council adopts it, the sale and consumption of all tobacco products would be prohibited state-wide. Even the garden at the back of the house would be smoke-free.
Smokers would be forced to stop smoking or even migrate to the mainland. This idea was blamed by civil righters and even health experts wonder if this radical step is right. But Burnie is keeping its ground. “We just wanted to undertake some new steps and to demonstrate how strongly we want to create a healthy environment for our people,” stated a government official.
A city councilor from Launceston tried for years to convince his colleagues to prohibit smoking in the business district. Recently, this month, he finally realized to do it. “I do not believe that it is a drastic measure,” he stated.
“Three-quarters of people do not use tobacco products and they should express themselves about where smoking takes place in public. I take a dim view of such ban in Tasmania. I suppose that there would be many protests. It would be similar to regime in America in the 1930s. All these action would lead to illicit marker, there would be chaos and I do not believe that we are ready for that,” he added.
Chief director of Quit Tasmania, thinks that price increases and education campaigns are more effective than these drastic bans. He reminds that when the price of cigarettes increased by more than 15% last April, the number of calls to Quitline service raised by 700 % in the first week.
While the smoking rate in Australia has declined from 26% 15 years ago, it has scarcely been observed in Tasmania.
Probably one place where smokers should not think about emigrating is New Zealand. Anti-smoking advocates are requiring the country to become smoke free by 2020.
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