Experts urge ban on sale of Australian supermarket cigarettes | Instant News


Australian public health experts are making new efforts to curb the use of tobacco products, comparing their adverse health effects to asbestos and lead paint.

Australia has led the world in tobacco control, with a plain packaging law introduced in 2012, higher taxes and clear public health warnings.

But campaigners say the measures are not enough to stop people from smoking. Public health experts want to get cigarettes off the shelves of supermarkets and convenience stores.

Fourteen percent of Australians smoke, according to the latest government figures. In 1977, 37% of Australians smoked. In an article published Monday in The Medical Journal of Australia, researchers say tobacco use is declining too slowly.

Coral Gartner is director of the Center of Research Excellence on Achieving the Tobacco Endgame of the National Health and Medical Research Council, a government agency.

He said the availability of tobacco in shops and supermarkets needed to be further restricted.

“You know, the road we’ve been on is really slow to get to this point. We’re at a point where we think, you know, it’s time to start thinking about how long it really is appropriate to just sell this product in the general retail environment. We’re not talking about making it a banned product or banning smoking,” Gartner said.

Researchers say that studies in Australia, the UK, Canada and Hong Kong have shown that half of all adults want tobacco sales to be phased out. In April, the New Zealand government proposed several new measures that would sharply reduce the number of tobacco retail outlets.

Government health experts say smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Australia.

The government said it would continue to “explore new evidence-based measures” to further reduce tobacco consumption.

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