Australia is lagging well behind many other countries in the Asia-Pacific region when it comes to successfully tackling smoking through vaping, says the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA).
The CAPHRA’s observation comes as Australia’s Department of Health seeks feedback on its Draft National Smoking Strategy 2022–2030, with public submissions closing on March 24.
“We encourage vapers and supporters of a progressive tobacco harm reduction (THR) approach to have their say. Australians desperate to quit smoking and those keen to stay off deadly cigarettes need all the help they can get,” says Nancy Loucas, executive coordinator of the CAPHRA.
On Oct. 1, 2021, Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration expanded its prescription-only model with customs clamping down at the border on personal imports of nicotine vaping liquids from overseas websites.
Not only does Australia’s draft strategy ignore the potential of safer nicotine products, it also lacks ambition, according to Loucas. The strategy aims for a smoking rate of 10 percent or less by 2025 while New Zealand is pursuing a 5 percent smoke-free goal and looks on target to achieve it. “Instead of banning vaping, New Zealand has regulated it, making it tough for minors to access but available to all adults keen to keep off the cancer sticks. New Zealand is seeing its overall smoking rate tumble, yet the Australian government fails to accept that the most effective smoking cessation tool available is staring it in the face,” says Loucas.
“Australia is well down the world rankings when it comes to adopting effective THR policies and is light-years behind the U.S. and U.K. Subsequently, Australia’s overall smoking rate has fallen very little over the past decade, and without reasonable access to vaping, Australia will struggle to even achieve its 10 percent smoking goal,” says Loucas.