Australia cigarette prices continue to rise despite expert advice.
Australia’s approach to tobacco control is similar to that in the UK and USA, with standardised packaging and regular tax re-evaluations. However, while the UK and USA have seen positive results from these methods, Australia has seen smoking rates rise. Australia cigarette prices are the most expensive in the world and on 1st September, cigarette tax was increased by a further 13% meaning cigarettes which would have previously cost $32.50 now cost an astounding $35.20.
Smoking rates continue to rise.
Despite these high prices, 2.4 million people in Australia smoked in 2016, 21,000 more than in 2013; so why, even with these extreme measures in place, do smoking rates continue to rise in Australia?
One significant difference between the approach taken in the UK and Australia is the acceptance of e-cigarettes. In the UK, e-cigarettes are being increasingly endorsed by leading public health organisations and governing bodies. In Australia, it’s a much different story as the sale of e-cigarettes is banned, despite the opposing views of some key political and public health figureheads.
“The government bans the sale of e cigarettes that contain nicotine, even though these are 95 per cent less harmful than cigarettes. The extortionate taxation of tobacco, combined with the ban on e-cigarettes and plain packaging rules, have generated a booming black market in untaxed, unregulated tobacco run by organised crime.”
Alex Wodak, Director of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation shares similar views as he said;
“Australia is doing everything right in terms of tobacco control, but one key difference with the UK and USA, where smoking rates have dropped, is our hostility to e-cigarettes”
It seems ludicrous that in Australia, you can go into a shop and buy products that are known to cause disease and death but you cannot purchase e-cigarettes that are recognised as 95% safer than traditional cigarettes.
It begs the question, why is the Australian government upholding this e-cigarette ban and pursuing these stubborn price increases despite contrasting results and advice from experts?