The National Retail Association (NRA) says the draft ruling to restrict the sale of vaping and smoke-free nicotine products to chemists is “ridiculous and inconsistent”, considering cigarettes are sold freely.
The TGA’s draft ruling captures “nicotine when prepared for use in e-cigarettes, e-juice heat-not-burn tobacco products, chewing tobacco, snuff and other novel nicotine products”. However, cigarettes and tobacco will remain freely available in retail outlets across the country.
NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said the draft from the Therapeutic Goods Administration ruling would ensure the most harmful forms of tobacco would continue to be widely available, while those that offered a pathway to quit smoking would be much more difficult to obtain.
She said the ruling would damage tens of thousands of small retailers across Australia who relied on tobacco sales to support their businesses, but who wanted access to a less harmful alternative.
“This outcome is not only the worst of both worlds for small retailers who will be locked out of selling smoke-free nicotine but still able to sell more harmful tobacco, but it’s also the worst of both worlds for consumers who want to quit cigarettes,” Ms Lamb said.
“The very fact that the TGA has decided to allow nicotine vaping is recognition that it is a safer option for smokers,” Ms Lamb said.
“That is in line with the views of the World Health Organisation, and almost every other OECD country that permits nicotine vaping. What makes no sense is the decision to make it even harder for consumers to switch from cigarettes, while clogging up doctors surgeries to get prespriptions.
“It also makes no sense that the Federal Government would lock out small business owners from this market when so many of them are already struggling to stay afloat.
“A far better option would be to allow the sale of smoke-free nicotine in the same places and with the same legal restrictions as currently apply to cigarettes and tobacco. This would be a far more sensible and consistent outcome, which would help both smokers and small businesses to give up cigarettes.”
Ms Lamb said the NRA was also concerned about the health of retail workers, who had a higher smoking rate than the average for the rest of the population.
“As employers, our members are also keen to see their staff have easy access to safer alternatives.”