Independent member for Windermere Ivan Dean and the Tasmanian Small Business Council have clashed over a renewed push to raise the minimum legal age at which tobacco can be purchased.
Tasmanian Small Business Council chief executive Robert Mallett said while high smoking rates in the state were problematic, Mr Dean's proposed solution to raise the minimum legal tobacco purchasing age from 18 to 21 was wrong.
"Prohibition is never the answer, and there is no evidence T21 [Mr Dean's proposal] will achieve anything other than drive young smokers to the black market, hurting small business at the same time," Mr Mallett claimed
"Instead, I encourage Mr Dean to put his energy into advocating for the harm-reduction approach of vaping."
Mr Mallett said there was medical evidence which suggested vaping was less harmful than cigarettes and could help people quit smoking.
"Most importantly from a small business point of view, legalising vaping would allow retailers to sell a less dangerous product to people addicted to smoking," Mr Mallett said.
When asked to respond, Mr Dean said Mr Mallett was not a medical expert and that health bodies like the Australian Medical Association supported the push to raise the tobacco purchasing age to 21.
"What we are stopping is these businesses selling tobacco products to persons under the age of 21 and that will be incrementally brought in. The first year it will be 19, the next year it will be 20 and the following year it be 21.
"We've done it that way so it doesn't impact on current smokers."
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Mr Dean accused the Small Business Council of prioritising profits ahead of public health.
"The cost to small business is not going to be huge because in this state, I think on average about 700 to 800 people turn 18 or 19 in any one year... so their argument that a black market will be created is absolute nonsense.
"You can't get a black market to develop on really small numbers of people."
Mr Dean intends to introduce legislation to raise the age later in September.