This World No Tobacco Day, 148 health organizations signed an open letter calling on governments to work to phase out commercial cigarette sales.
Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies) and The University of Queensland School of Public Health were both signatories to the letter.
Dr Marita Hefler, senior research fellow at Menzies, said it was time to start planning for a world after tobacco.
“Cigarettes are uniquely dangerous. “No other product that causes early death when used exactly as intended is allowed to remain for sale,” said Dr Hefler.
“Treating cigarettes as a normal consumer product is a remnant of the past – when the dangers of smoking were not well understood.”
New Zealand recently released a draft tobacco action proposal that includes a series of proposals to help the country achieve its smoke-free goal.
These include the ban on filters (a major cause of plastic pollution), the drastic reduction in the number of outlets allowed to sell tobacco and the reduction of nicotine content in cigarettes to non-addictive levels.
The proposal also includes a plan to phase out sales through a smoke-free generation strategy, which will increase the legal purchase age of cigarettes annually so that people born after a certain year will never legally sell cigarettes. not.
If New Zealand implements these proposals, it will join other international jurisdictions that have recently taken steps to end cigarette sales, including several city councils in the United States and the Netherlands. The latter is phasing out sales of supermarkets and filling stations from 2024.
The University of Queensland School of Public Health Associate Professor Coral Gartner said Australia was a world leader in reducing smoking.
“We were the first country to introduce regular cigarette packaging and our hard-working public awareness campaigns on the dangers of smoking, graphic warning labels, tobacco tax and non-smoking areas have reduced smoking to historically low levels,” said Dr Gartner.
“It is time for cigarettes to be treated in the same way as other equally dangerous products such as asbestos, and lead paint and petrol.”
Studies show most smokers like to quit smoking. Reducing the number of outlets where cigarettes are sold will help reduce impulsive purchases of cigarettes while you are quitting.
The Australian government is facilitating access to a wider range of cigarette alternatives from October through the prescription nicotine evaporation program, so there will be additional help for people who need it and options for those who want to continue using nicotine.
As smoking continues to decline, inevitable impacts on retailers and government tax revenues will be felt.
Both retailers and the government need to prepare for a future that does not rely on people continuing to use a lethal product to generate revenue. It is important for everyone to have a clear end date to plan for this.
While current approaches to reducing smoking have been very successful, a significant number of Australians still smoke daily, and smoking-related harm becomes excessive to some sections of the population.
Changing the tobacco supply system is likely to result in more equitable reduction in smoking in society compared to current approaches alone.
The Australian government recently consulted on a draft National Preventive Health Strategy, which included a target to reduce smoking to less than five per cent of the population by 2030.
However, it is unlikely that such ambitious goals will be achieved without strategies that go beyond ‘business as usual’.
Additional public consultation on specific policy options to achieve this goal is needed to identify which strategies have the greatest support in reducing the retail availability of cigarettes.
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Menzies School of Health Research
Menzies is one of Australia’s leading medical research institutes dedicated to improving the health and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and a leader in global and tropical research on life-threatening diseases. Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.