The results of a new report released yesterday in London by the highly-respected Royal College of Physicians provide resounding evidence for the need to regulate the sale of tobacco in Australia and to protect children from the harms of tobacco.
Quit Executive Director Todd Harper said today that one of the key recommendations of the report, Nicotine Addiction in Britain, was that nicotine should be recognised as a powerfully addictive drug, similar in its addictive nature to heroin or cocaine.
'This new report has widespread implications for regulation of the tobacco industry in Australia,' Mr Harper said.
'Research has clearly shown that nicotine is a dangerous and addictive drug and that the sale of cigarettes should be regulated to protect children from embarking on a dangerous addiction which will harm their health and result in the deaths of 1 in 2 long term users.'
'Introducing regulations on the sale of tobacco, such as licensing and tightening point-of-sale advertising in shops is one way that we can reduce the potential for children to be swayed by the powerful messages tobacco companies direct at them through this advertising.'
Mr Harper said 8 out of 10 new smokers are children, and research shows early uptake of smoking is linked with:
- heavier smoking patterns;
- a lower likelihood of quitting; and
- an increased risk of developing a smoking-related disease.
'Cigarettes are often positioned in shops next to lollies and chocolates and this practice must be stopped.'
'We also know that children under the age of 18 are easily able to buy cigarettes, and improved regulation and enforcement would be one way to reduce the prevalence of cigarette sales to children.'
Mr Harper said surveys conducted in Melbourne suburbs have shown that around 40% of retail outlets have been caught selling tobacco to children.
Mr Harper said the Royal College of Physician's report also found that Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) treatments were a highly effective treatment for adult smokers.
'It's important that NRT treatments are placed on the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme, to ensure that their cost is not a barrier if people want to use these treatments to help them quit smoking.'
'This report clearly supports the importance of continuing to resource effective programs that help adults to successfully quit smoking.'
'The commitment to cessation campaigns such as the National Tobacco Campaign are an important investment in the health of the Australian community.'
'The National Tobacco Campaign has made a big impact on the public awareness of the dangers of smoking, and has had phenomenal results both here in Victoria and nationally in helping people quit.'
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