Big changes on the cards for smokers
Smokers could be forced to buy cigarettes from pharmacies or even need a prescription to get their hands on them as part of a bold new aim to stub out the unhealthy habit for good.
The restrictions of cigarette sales to pharmacies will be among the strategies explored by a new centre at the University of Queensland, as part of its ambitious aim to stub out smoking for good.
The restriction of cigarette sales will be among the strategies explored by a centre at the University of Queensland (UQ) developing a road map over the next five years towards becoming a smoke-free society.
Centre for Research Excellence on Achieving the Tobacco Endgame, or CREATE, director Coral Gartner said it would investigate existing evidence-based strategies on phasing out cigarettes as well as generating original research on the issue.
Associate Professor Gartner, who has been researching tobacco control policy since 2006, said one of the key issues the centre would probe was cigarette supply.
"It may be that they're never made illicit, that there may still be avenues to access them, particularly for people who have a lot of difficulty quitting smoking, but is it really appropriate to be able to buy them from your supermarket where you buy your groceries?" she said.
Dr Gartner said proposed cigarette reduction supply strategies ranged from reducing the number of tobacco retailers to restricting sales to particular suppliers, such as pharmacies.
Other proposals include ending cigarette sales to everyone born after a certain year and phasing out commercial cigarette sales. That may mean allowing access through a doctor's prescription only.
"The research centre will look at the different models in which you could phase-out cigarette sales without just banning the product completely," Dr Gartner said.
"I'm excited about the opportunity to help make Australia a smoke-free country."
Seventy years after researchers in the US and UK found a relationship between cigarettes and lung cancer, tobacco smoking remains a leading cause of preventable death worldwide.
In Australia, smoking causes almost one in seven deaths.
The new UQ-based centre involves researchers throughout Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
It is funded by $2.5 million from the National Health and Medical Research Centre and $500,000 from UQ.
About 2.3 million Australians still smoke tobacco daily, a prevalence of just under 15 per cent of the adult population. The Australian Government has a goal of reducing that to 10 per cent by 2025.
Smoking prevalence has been dropping by an average of 0.4 per cent a year since 2010 in Australia.
Dr Gartner said the UQ centre aimed to "accelerate that decline".
Originally published as Big changes on the cards for smokers