CANCER groups across Australia are supporting a push to raise the legal smoking age to 21.
The current legal age is 18, but peak oncology groups say 95 per cent of all adults start smoking before they turn 21.
The western side of Tamworth has one of the biggest smoking rates in the state, according to the Australian Health Policy Collaboration Health Tracker Map.
The smoking rate among people over the age of 18, living in western Tamworth, was at 30.3 per cent, according to the health map.
The area was only topped by Mt Druitt in western Sydney which had a rate of 31.2 per cent.
The entire Tamworth local government area had a smoking rate of 19.9 per cent.
President of the Private Cancer Physicians of Australia, Dr Christopher Steer, who is based in regional NSW, said the smoking rates among disadvantaged youth was alarmingly high across Australia and rates of smoking in regional Australia was significantly higher than in the cities.
“As oncologists, we see, too often, the horrible and deadly impact of what happens when young people become addicted to nicotine,” Dr Steer said.
“We know all governments are fighting very hard to warn them against the harms of smoking but, sometimes, we simply need to take the ability to form the habit out of their hands.”