Will Hodgman

Premier of Tasmania

20 December 2015

Michael Ferguson, Minister for Health

Healthy Tasmania

The Hodgman Liberal Government has an ambitious goal for Tasmania to have the healthiest population in Australia by 2025.

Addressing Tasmania’s high rates of chronic disease and health and risk factors such as smoking, obesity, poor nutrition, low physical activity levels and risky alcohol consumption is a priority of our draft Consultative Healthy Tasmania Five Year Strategic Plan.

Being ambitious is important if we truly want to work together as a community to improve our health and wellbeing.

Getting a good start to life in developing healthy habits early is critical for a healthy adulthood and healthy ageing.

Keeping ourselves healthier for longer and managing our risk of chronic disease is an integral part of living happy, productive and fulfilled lives.

It is also critical for the sustainability of the health system, which currently faces the challenge of ever-increasing demand on acute services.

We need to do better at managing at both ends – a well-functioning health system is not only about delivering good hospital services, but also about supporting people to remain healthy and not require hospital care in the first place.

Today, I am pleased to release the Healthy Tasmania Five Year Strategic Plan – Community Consultation Draft.

The Consultation Draft outlines that smoking and obesity will be priorities under the first five year strategic plan. This is where evidence tells us we can make a significant change in population health outcomes.

The Government has included ideas on improving nutrition and access to healthy food, improving physical activity and recreational infrastructure, developing community-led action plans and taking a ‘life stages’ approach of developing healthy habits in kids and supporting older people to remain healthy and independent.

The Consultation Draft also proposes raising the minimum legal smoking age. Current laws make it illegal to smoke under the age of 18; but there would be significant health benefits associated with raising the legal age to 21 or 25.

International evidence supports raising the minimum legal smoking age as a means of targeting the most at-risk age category for smoking uptake. Studies show that most smokers take up the habit before the age of 25. There would likely be significant health benefits for the community and savings to the health system over time if the rate of people taking up smoking was reduced.

The Consultation Draft will be available for public comment until 19 February 2016, Tasmanians can find out how to have their say at http://www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/about_the_department/our_plans_and_strategies/a_healthy_tasmania

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