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Tripling of tobacco sellers’ licence fee in Tasmania reasonable, retailers say

A planned tripling of the tobacco sellers licence fee in Tasmania is a “reasonable compromise”, a retail industry group says.

On Saturday, the Tasmanian Government detailed its $6.4 million Healthy Tasmania plan, which includes raising the licence fee to $731 next year and then about $1,100 by January 2018.

The Australian Retailers Association’s executive director, Russell Zimmerman, said retailers would have to factor in increased costs.

“We like to see people live healthy, good lifestyles and we don’t encourage things that would deter that,” he said.

“Having said that we would also say that the tripling of the licence fees will hit small, independent retailers.”

But Mr Zimmerman said increasing the licence fee was a better option compared to the Government’s original plan to increase the minimum smoking age.

“With all the tourism happening in Tasmania we think it would have been very hard to police,” he said.

“This is probably a reasonable compromise.”

Last week, the State Government said it would shelve its controversial plan to lift the legal smoking age from 18 to as high as 25, saying that after consultation it was clear it was not an appropriate course of action.

Funding labelled a joke

Greens party spokeswoman Rosalie Woodruff was critical of the $6.4 million Healthy Tasmania plan, labelling the amount a joke.

“It is nothing like the serious investment, the strong plan that the Minister has been talking about for a year now,” she said.

“We’ve got soaring rates of chronic diseases in Tasmania and the Government’s prevention health strategy is a paltry amount of money to deal with what’s ahead of us.”

Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff said the Government was already spending $70 million on preventative healthcare in addition to the $6.4 million.

He said $2 million from the Healthy Tasmania plan would be spent on improving student health and wellbeing, including updated drug education programs.

“Alongside the investment of resources education plays such a key role when it comes to cultural and intergenerational change,” he said.

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