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Labor Aims to Reduce Smoking Prevalence Nationwide in Australia

Graphic warning labels on cigarette packages will be updated, and appealing names on vapes will be phased out as part of new measures to stop Australians from smoking.

New laws introduced to federal parliament on Wednesday will also see tobacco packets standardised along with the design and look of filters.

As well, graphic warnings will be stamped on vapes in a bid to stop more young people from taking up smoking, with advertising restrictions also extended to vapes.

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Health Minister Mark Butler said the reforms would see better health outcomes for thousands of people.

“Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disability among Australians. It’s estimated to kill more than 20,000 Australians each year,” he said.

“The main objective of these reforms is to reduce the daily smoking prevalence by discouraging uptake among people who do not smoke and increasing cessation among people who do smoke.”

The new laws, which will come into effect from April next year if passed by parliament, will also attempt to improve transparency about product contents, advertising activities and sales volumes.

In May, the Labor government announced a ban on the importation of non-prescription and single-use vape products.

While smoking rates have declined in Australia since plain packaging was introduced more than a decade ago, Mr. Butler said the number of smokers had to be reduced.

“We are not as a country currently on track to meet the targets that are set out in the National Tobacco Strategy for continued reductions in smoking rates over the course of this decade, to get them below 10 per cent by 2025,” he said

“This government is determined to see Australia reclaim its position as a world leader in tobacco control because, quite frankly, lives are at stake.

“Disadvantaged Australians are paying the price for big tobacco’s profits.”

Mr. Butler is also concerned about a rise in the number of young people taking up vaping.

“The only cohort in our community where smoking rates are going up are under 25s, and we know from emerging research that it doesn’t take rocket science to conclude … vaping is acting as a gateway to cigarettes,” he said.

The government still wants to reduce the national smoking rate to less than 10 percent by 2025, five per cent or less by 2030 and 27 percent or less for Indigenous communities.

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