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The National Retail Association (NRA) has today outlined a fairer and more sensible approach to legalising the sale of vaping products, in its submission to the Senate Inquiry on the issue.

After previous expressing alarm over the current plan to allow smoke-free to be either purchased on the internet without restriction or only sold in pharmacies by prescription, the NRA’s submission has proposed a model that would allow small businesses to transition away from cigarettes.

It would require strict regulation, in line with existing cigarette sales laws, but would open a pathway for both smokers and retailers to quit cigarettes.

The submission proposes a regulatory framework developed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to regulate smoke-free tobacco products, based on three principles – reducing harm, helping Australian smokers, and protecting Australian kids.

“This model recognises that 20,000 retailers – who already have trusting relationships with Australia’s 3 million smokers – are well placed to act as the frontline in helping customers move to a less harmful product category,” the NRA submission says.

“And in time, with the right regulation, this model will result in Australia to becoming the first country in the world to eliminate the sale of cigarettes completely.”

The NRA says that the current “internet or pharmacy” model will force small Australian retail businesses to continue their reliance on harmful cigarette products. Under the proposal, overseas retailers would join large corporate pharmacies having exclusive access to the market.

“Small businesses have spent many years making the case to the Department of Health for the opportunity to be involved in a properly regulated market for less harmful vaping products, including one overseen by strict retailing provisions akin to the way tobacco products are dealt with at present,” The NRA submission says.

“This includes age verification, regulated packaging, advertising bans, ingredient and quality standards. Suitable models already exist globally with New Zealand recently adopting what is considered a best practice approach.”

The NRA’s submission follows comments by a senior Department of Health official at a Senate hearing last month that smoke-free nicotine products are safer alternatives than cigarettes.

Under questioning from Senator Hollie Hughes, the Deputy Secretary of the Department for Health, Adjunct Professor John Skerritt, said “the evidence is in that vaping is less harmful than tobacco smoking”.


Read the NRA submission