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Tobacco retailers slugged under new Tasmanian plan to curb smoking

The Tasmanian Government will triple the licence fee charged to tobacco retailers in a bid to tackle high smoking rates.

The Government has released its final Healthy Tasmania five-year strategic plan, which was put out for public consultation in December last year.

Health Minister Michael Ferguson said the $6.4 million plan contained 24 actions, mainly targeting smoking and obesity.

“We will be tripling the cost of tobacco seller licence fees, increasing compliance and enforcement, we will be providing options for more information to help people make the decision to quit even at the point of sale and we will be regulating the sale of e-cigarettes,” he said.

It is estimated $1.8 million will be raised over four years by increasing the licence fee to $731 next year and about $1,100 by January 2018.

The funds will go towards a social media quit campaign, and employing more education and compliance officers.

Mr Ferguson said he was not worried about a backlash from tobacco retailers.

“Along with the sale of tobacco it comes with the responsibility to fully fund the enforcement of tobacco legislation in this state,” he said.

“We will also be increasing the maximum penalty for providing tobacco to a young person.”

On Thursday, the Government backed away from its controversial move to lift the legal smoking age to at least 21,

“We believe at this point in time this is the appropriate balance,” Mr Ferguson said.

Anti-smoking groups welcome strategy

The Cancer Council’s Penny Egan has welcomed the plan.

“We’ve always said that the smoking age is just one of many strategies and so we’d rather focus on a whole range of things,” she said.

The plan has also included measures to help communities and individuals make healthier lifestyle choices.

The Heart Foundation’s Graeme Lynch said preventative health had been underfunded in Tasmania and welcomed the focus on smoking and obesity prevention.

“We hope that we can really turbo charge the activity around addressing the poor uptake of fruit and vegetables in Tasmania,” he said.

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