A radical plan put forward by a research group trying to rid the country of smoking proposes having Australians obtain a doctor’s script to buy cigarettes.
The path to a smoke-free Australia is being researched by a newly-created The University of Queensland research group – the Centre for Research Excellence on Achieving the Tobacco Endgame (CREATE).
The team is made up of researchers from 11 institutions across the world, including New Zealand and Canada.
The centre’s director associate Professor Coral Gartner said in a press release published on Friday their goal was ambitious, but clear.
“Australia’s smoking prevalence is just under 15 per cent, but we will need a well-designed endgame strategy if we are to achieve close to zero smoking,” she said.
The endgame goal is to permanently reduce overall smoking prevalence to a minimal level within a set timeframe, according to an article published by Prof Gartner published in the Medical Journal of Australia.
“An effective tobacco endgame strategy should accelerate the decline in smoking prevalence while assisting governments, retailers and people who smoke to transition to a smoke-free society,” she said.
Some of the proposed endgame methods include regulating cigarettes contents to remove the most harmful toxins, or to make them non-addictive and non-palatable, Prof Gartner said in the article.
The centre is also looking into reducing the number of retailers that sell tobacco, or restricting sales to specific stores like pharmacies and requiring customer to have a prescription.
Prof Gartner told Yahoo News Australia in a statement “CREATE will look at a range of options to reduce smoking levels in Australia”.
“Examples of proposed endgame approaches include regulating the content and emissions of tobacco products and other supply reduction strategies,” she said.
“The focus of the research centre is not ‘cigarettes on prescription’, which would be at the more restrictive end on a scale of possible options that includes many less restrictive alternatives.
“The centre will examine and scrutinise the evidence for each option and will seek the views of stakeholders, including people who smoke, to understand how to best support governments, retailers and society transition to a very low smoking prevalence country.”
It is estimated there are about 2.3 million smokers in Australia – just under 15 per cent of the population.
The Australian government wants to reduce smoking to 10 per cent by 2025.
“While smoking prevalence is declining in Australia, progress is slow, with an average fall of only 0.4% per year since 2010,” Prof Gartner said.
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