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Health experts call for ban on sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products in Australia

Public health experts say the state governments must set a date for banning the sale of cigarettes in Australian supermarkets.

Australia’s state governments must set an end date for the sale of cigarettes through retailers including supermarkets, public health experts say.

In an article published in the Medical Journal of Australia on Monday, researchers from the University of Queensland said anti-smoking measures such as plain-packaging laws and health warnings were no longer enough, insisting Australia now needed to address the supply side of tobacco consumption.

The researchers said a product as harmful to consumers’ health as cigarettes should not be available for purchase in Australian supermarkets.

“Despite tobacco’s legal status, it fails to meet consumer safety standards,” the authors wrote.

“Consumer and drug regulatory systems would prohibit the sale of cigarettes as a new consumer product today.

“Governments should set target end dates for tobacco sales and support retailers to transition to a smoke‐free society.”

Lead author of the article and tobacco health expert Coral Gartner said Australia’s state governments were falling behind the general public in anti-smoking sentiment.

“Most international governments, including Australia, are lagging behind the significant public support for ending tobacco retailing,” Dr Gartner said.

“Research shows half of all adults in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, England and Hong Kong want tobacco sales phased out.”

Survey results published in the MJA on Monday found 52.8 per cent of respondents to a Victorian Cancer Council questionnaire were in-favour of phasing out the sale of cigarettes in retail outlets.

Last November, the Netherlands passed laws preventing supermarkets from selling cigarettes from 2024.

In April, the New Zealand government proposed several new measures that would significantly reduce the number of tobacco retail outlets.

Dr Gartner said that setting a specific date for when the sale of cigarettes would end in Australian would provide tobacco retailers with certainty and assistance in future planning, make it easier for people to quit smoking, and assist the government to plan for reductions in tobacco tax revenue.

“This is the next natural step towards controlling the tobacco use, as supported by a growing number of tobacco control advocacy organisations,” she said.

“Industry self-regulation and voluntary approaches won’t reduce tobacco retailing to meet the government goal proposed in the draft National Preventive Health Strategy of reducing smoking to below 5 per cent by 2030.

“That’s why it’s time for the government to focus on supply reduction and plan an end date for tobacco retailing.”


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