Retailers part of preventative solution

Australian Lottery and Newsagents Association (ALNA) CEO, Ben Kearney

A report released by The McKell Institute states that, the growing weight of evidence from research and overseas experience suggests that legalising and regulating vaping in Australia would improve public health.

Australian Lottery and Newsagents Association (ALNA) CEO, Ben Kearney, commented, “This report indicates that our retailers could be part of the solution, not the problem and that it is time Australia had a more pragmatic approach to vaping being offered as a regulated alternative to smokers and even an aid to quitting smoking. It is being used overseas to reduce harm for long-term smokers with proven success.

“Our member newsagents are in every community in Australia and a third of Australians shop in our members stores each week, so we know our customers well. They are becoming frustrated that the policies that have worked to make a difference to public health like regular tobacco excise increases, are no longer working.

“Our members tell us that this is now just fuelling the rapidly growing illegal trade in tobacco (15% of all tobacco consumption is illegal tobacco*) and increasing store robberies and security risks for them that hurt their businesses. And as demand for vaping increases in Australia, consumers are illegally importing unregulated and potentially unsafe liquid nicotine and vaping devices.

“Quite a number of our retailers have had to exit the category as a result of personal safety and theft concerns and have left it to the major retailers.”

The report indicates that with appropriate regulation, retailers could help their customers who are addicted smokers to realise the potential preventative benefits of vaping, whilst minimising the risks to young people, non-smokers and the community at large.

ALNA says that the report provides a good opportunity for a more practical and informed debate by our leaders on this issue. “We welcome a more considered investigation and the opportunity for our member retailers to be part of a positive outcome,” said Kearney.

*KPMG Report ‘Illicit Tobacco in Australia’, 2018: ‘the consumption of illicit tobacco as a proportion of total consumption increased from 14.3% in 2016 to 15.0% in 2017.’

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