AMA NT is frustrated by the high rate of preventable diseases in Territorians PICTURE: ISTOCK
AMA NT is frustrated by the high rate of preventable diseases in Territorians PICTURE: ISTOCK

‘It’s killing people’ — AMA calls for smoking age to be 25

TERRITORIANS under the age of 25 will be banned from buying cigarettes if a controversial proposal by Australian Medical Association NT president Dr Rob Parker is adopted.

Dr Parker said the leading causes of death for Territory blokes were smoking related.

"We've got high rates of cardiac disease, high rates of respiratory disease - what's killing Territorians is tobacco," he said.

"A key problem for the NT is the continuing high rates for smoking in indigenous communities and the lack of any sort of real action to stop that."

Australian Medical Association NT branch president Rob Parker wants more action to help people stop smoking. Picture: KERI MEGELUS
Australian Medical Association NT branch president Rob Parker wants more action to help people stop smoking. Picture: KERI MEGELUS

Dr Parker said the NT needed more "innovative programs" to stop smoking.

"Whatever has been tried doesn't seem to be working," he said.

Dr Parker wanted the age for smoking in the Territory to be 25.

"It's killing people," he said.

"We've got to do something."

Cancer Council NT chief executive Tanya Izod said raising the legal age to 25 would help reduce the availability of cigarettes to young people - but this strategy alone would not stop children and young adults from smoking.

"We welcome the testing of new approaches and new ideas to reduce smoking rates - but we need to not lose sight of what we know has been proven to work to reduce smoking - hard hitting mass media campaigns, tax excise, plain packaging, denormalisation, smoke free spaces and cessation support," she said.

Ms Izod said over the past couple of years, the NT had consistently had the highest level of regular smoking among those aged 18 and older - 20 per cent compared to 14 per cent nationally.

"Residents of NT are significantly more likely to be regular smokers than people from other states of Australia."

Cancer Council NT wants the Territory Government to make all schools across the NT smoke free.

"Schools are the perfect place for educating about the health risks of smoking," Ms Izod said.

"Our future is our children, the only way to eliminate smoking related cancers is to educate the young."

NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles was contacted.