The National Tobacco Strategy is set to fail…again!

Posted on March 3, 2022 By Colin

The Department of Health is seeking feedback on how to reduce smoking in the draft National Tobacco Strategy 2022-2030. This is an opportunity for vapers to be heard before the anti-vaping policy is locked in for the rest of the decade.

Please make a submission before the deadline of 24 March 2022. More information about making a submission can be found here. My submission is available here and may help you to prepare your own.

The main element missing from the draft Strategy is tobacco harm reduction, ie the use of safer nicotine alternatives such as vaping, heated tobacco products, Swedish snus and nicotine pouches for smokers who are unable to quit with other methods

The draft strategy lacks urgency. It sets a very modest goal of <10% adult daily smoking by 2025. In sharp contrast, New Zealand  recently set a target of <5% daily adult smoking by 2025 for all population groups including Maori and Pacifica groups. Vaping is a key element of this plan.

It is highly unlikely that Australia will achieve even this low target by continuing to rely on the same old abstinence-only strategies. New, innovative and effective strategies such as tobacco harm reduction options are needed.

The previous National Tobacco Strategy 2012-2018 was an embarrassing failure. A target of 10% adult daily smoking was set for 2018 but was missed by a wide margin. In 2017-18 the adult daily smoking rate was 13.8% according to the National Health Survey.

Unlike Australia, the decline in smoking rates has accelerated in countries where reduced-risk nicotine products are encouraged. In Australia, the annual rate of decline in smoking since 2013 has been 0.3%. In England it has been 0.7% and in the US 0.8% per year. It is highly likely that high rates of vaping in those countries have been a major contributor to this rapid decline.

In New Zealand over the last 12 months, there has been an unprecedented 20% decline in adult smoking rates since the new vaping legislation was introduced last year.

This decline is likely to be almost entirely due to vaping as there have been no other significant tobacco policy changes during this time.

Vaping is supported by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists and Royal Australian College of General Practitioners for smokers who are unable to quit with conventional strategies. However, the draft strategy ignores their advice. In Australia it is easier to purchase a deadly cigarette than a far safer alternative.

Continuing the traditional 'quit or die' approach will result in a continuing sluggish decline in Australian smoking rates and another embarrassing failure to reach the smoking target. Smokers are being thrown under the bus. We need to do better.

Go to Top