Media Release Policy UPDATE

The Executive Director of the Australian Retailers’ Association, Russell Zimmerman, said today that vaping products and other smoking substitutes shown in peer-reviewed scientific research to reduce risk to smokers and eliminate passive smoking risks must be legalised by whoever wins the imminent federal election.

Commenting on last week’s decision by the US Food and Drug Authority to authorise the sale of smokeless heated tobacco systems, Mr Zimmerman said that with more than three million Australians smoking daily, governments could not rely on trying to tax smoking out of existence as a public health strategy.

“Nicotine is more addictive than heroin, and continuing smokers have become no more than a revenue base for governments of all persuasions, with actual regard for their health merely an afterthought,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“Given the addictive properties of nicotine, we need real world solutions, not more excise hikes,” he added.

Mr Zimmerman noted that under FDA processes for approving new tobacco products, manufacturers must prove the product is “appropriate for the protection of public health,” including both users and non-users of the product.

“When the FDA says these products are consistent with public safety – and when Australia and Turkey are the only major countries continuing to eschew them – it’s time we got with the program,” Mr Zimmerman said.

Mr Zimmerman stressed the ARA did not condone smoking. Rather, allowing products that expand choice and options was common sense, rather than simply using smokers to boost consolidated revenue.

“If governments are serious about solutions beyond ramping up smokers’ costs, allowing the sale of alternatives that cut smokers’ health risks without passive risk to innocent bystanders, is a must,” Mr Zimmerman said.

Mr Zimmerman called on whichever party won next Saturday’s election to immediately commit to adopting the US FDA findings with a view to legalising smoking substitutes in Australia as a public health priority.

“This has gone on long enough; Australia is the “odd man out.” Whatever you think of smoking, there are benefits here for smokers and non-smokers. Australia’s got it wrong. It’s time that changed,” Mr Zimmerman concluded.

8 May 2019

ENDS…to interview Mr Zimmerman or for more details: Zoe Thompson (m) 0439 612 556 (e) media@retail.org.au.

About the Australian Retailers Association: Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is Australia’s largest retail association, representing the country’s $320 billion-dollar sector, which employs more than 1.3 million people. As Australia’s leading retail peak industry body, the ARA is a strong pro-active advocate for Australian retail and works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,800 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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