The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has welcomed calls for a smoke-free Victoria by 2025, after 24 health organisations released a new report pushing for stricter anti-smoking laws and more education programs.
Russell Zimmerman, Executive Director of the ARA, said although this is a great target to work towards, it’s disappointing to see no mention of e-cigarettes and personal vaporisers being part of the strategy for achieving a smoke-free goal.
“Smokers who are aiming to quit this habit via harm-reduction alternatives such as personal vaporisers and e-cigarettes are unfortunately being completely left-out of this new anti-smoking strategy,” Mr Zimmerman said.
“E-cigarettes and other vaping products can be used as a quitting aid for smokers and do not contain tobacco allowing users to inhale nicotine in a vapour form rather than smoke.”
The ARA believe that without access to less-harmful alternatives, many smokers would continue to find it difficult to quit.
“Our counterparts in New Zealand, the US and the UK have made it clear that making nicotine-based ecigarettes and vaping products available for purchase is a key part of ensuring Victorians quit smoking,” Mr Zimmerman said.
The report follows a recent Inquiry into the Use of Electronic Cigarettes and Personal Vaporisers in Australia. The ARA made a submission calling for the legalisation of these harm-reduction alternatives, as current restrictions on the sale of nicotine-based vaping products may lead to consumers importing these products from overseas or turning to black markets.
“The number of people who are already importing nicotine-based e-cigarettes from overseas is growing, which translates into a significant loss of revenue to overseas retailers,” Mr Zimmerman said.
“In addition to this, when restrictions force consumers to import these products, rather than purchase them legally at home, they are exposed to the risk of unregulated and potentially unsafe products.”
The ARA believe that the Government and health advocates should be more responsible in their approach to quitting smoking and should include these harm-reduction devices in their anti-smoking strategies to benefit consumers, the public health system, and from an economy perspective, local retailers.
“We want an equal playing field, which will help Victoria’s small business community to flourish, while simultaneously helping people to quit smoking and improve their health,” Mr Zimmerman said.
“In our view, that’s a win-win situation.”