2018 National Tobacco Survey consultation

The development of the National Tobacco Strategy

Overview

National Tobacco Strategy: to improve the health of all Australians by reducing the prevalence of tobacco smoking and its associated health, social and economic costs and the inequalities it causes.

This document outlines the proposals of the New Nicotine Alliance (Australia) on strengthening and furthering the aims of the NTS.

“Health promotion is the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health.  People cannot achieve their fullest health potential unless they are able to take control of those things which determine their health.”
Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion – World Health Organization

Reduce the Prevalence of Tobacco Smoking

Australia: has the highest cigarette prices in the world, led the way on smoking bans & was the first country to implement plain packaging, yet in recent times, a variety of countries have overtaken Australia in the race to reduce smoking rates.

Here is the comparison of smoking rates in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Australia lags behind. Neither the UK & the US can match Australia’s efforts in the traditional tobacco control strategies, yet both of those nationsallow nicotine for vaping.

Reduce Harms from Tobacco Smoking

Article 1d of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) reminds parties to the protocol that tobacco control comprises a range of measures, including Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR). This is one area of the FCTC protocol in which Australia has so far failed to do anything substantive, and in fact, has actively resisted.

It is overdue that Australia implements a clear & definitive strategy to legitimise THR, and promote it to Australian smokers.

THR Messages to Target Current Smokers

Graphic warnings on cigarette packs have been implemented in Australia, unfortunately while such messages on cigarette packs have been shown to increase the intention of smokers to make a quit attempt, they do not actually increase the rate of successful quit attempts. Graphic warnings, without a viable means for a smoker to quit smoking, increase stress – which in turn makes the smoker reach for a calming cigarette.

The opportunity is before us to provide information on pleasurable ways to become a non-smoker. A variety of THR messages should be included among the current scare messages. Here is how one might look.

These messages would reach exactly the people that need this information – current smokers.

Specific Recommendations

The New Nicotine Alliance (Australia) consumer advocacy group specifically recommends the following measures to reduce smoking in Australia:

  • A commitment to Tobacco Harm Reduction to be formally included in the NTS.
  • Tobacco Harm Reduction to be defined within the NTS to mean “a public health strategy to lower the health risks to individuals and wider society associated with using tobacco or nicotine products.”
  • That assessing strategies to promote and encourage THR be part of our measurement of the success of Tobacco Control in Australia.
  • That the focus of the NTS should be reducing the health burden of combustible tobacco on society, as opposed to harming the tobacco industry or creating a ‘nicotine free society’.
  • Nicotine to be legalised for use in electronic cigarettes.
  • That a proportion of the current graphic warnings on cigarettes packs be reserved for messages promoting THR.

Annette Huppatz: President, Andrew Thompson: Board Member
New Nicotine Alliance, Australia
13th August 2018

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