Could the vape ban in Australia be the reason for the country’s first increase in smoking rates since 2013?
Data obtained from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare states the current figure stands around 2.4 million smokers in Australia – revealing the number of smokers has increased by over 21,000 between 2013 and 2016.
Australia boasts the most expensive cigarette prices in the world at an average cost of $25.10. Compared to $14.40 in the UK and $8.50 in the US, cigarettes in Australia are a pricey commodity.
How have smoking rates in Australia increased even with the world’s most expensive cigarette?
Australia’s Anti-Smoking Strategies Are Not Working
Australia’s approach to lowering smoking rates is proving ineffective.
This is the first time in the country’s history that there has been no statistically significant reduction in smoking rates in Austalia. The fact that the rate has INCREASED is shockingly dissatisfying given what we know about the harm caused by cigarettes.
Vaporizer Hostility and Smoking Rates in Australia
Alex Wodak is a public health expert who advocates for vaporizers as harm reduction devices. He has clearly stated that Australia’s adopted “punitive and coercive” approach towards vaporizers is not effective.
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.
– Alex Wodak, Director, Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation
Australia’s malevolence towards vaporizers is a key variable in the country’s policies towards influencing smoking rates. Rates in the USA and the UK have dropped significantly despite sin tax hikes. The country should take notice and realize the vape ban in Australia is central to this issue.
Data from the US and the UK show that smoking rates have steadily declined since the introduction of the vaporizer. Furthermore, smoking rates in the UK have declined to the lowest smoking rate recorded since the 70’s and the second lowest rate in Europe according to the Office for National Statistics.
Strategies suggest that tax increases and plain packaging have been more effective on the younger generation, but has done little to deter smoking veterans. This is a problem that must be solved before lives are lost.
Rethinking The Vape Ban In Australia
The Australian government is raking in $11.6 billion this year (or $4950 per year per regular smoker), a world-beating tobacco excise haul. Not only that, but the tax is on track to rise 31 percent over the next three years and has projected a scheduled increase of 12.5% every year until 2021.
At what cost does Australia pay in lives for added monetary benefits?
There has been no shortage of sources and criticism from Aussies on the country’s policy towards tobacco products.
A Black Market Arises
Not only are there policy protests, but another dangerous side-effect has birthed from the tax hikes and Australia’s combative smoking strategy.
For the most pricey cigarette in the world and bans on vaporizer devices, many have turned to other means. Ordering product from the dark web, smuggling, and illegal e-liquid distributors have taken matters into their own hands, selling product right under the government’s noses.
Does this not defeat the purpose of an increased sin tax?
It’s Not Too Late
It’s not all negative for Australia, with the country still seeing decreased smoking rates since the 90s.
Daily Aussie smokers aged over 14 has fallen from 25 percent in the early 1990s — when the federal and state government launched a series of National Tobacco Campaigns to discourage smoking — to 12.2 percent in 2016. Moreover, the share of casual smokers has halved to 5.2 percent.
Australia has historically had significantly lower smoking rates than the US and UK. The latest smoking rates for over-18s in the US and Britain, 15.1 and 15.8 percent respectively, which are now similar to Australia’s after a population and smoking rate increase.
Alex Wodak, director of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, worries about the law of diminishing returns that may be seen with inflamed cigarette prices. Lifting the ban on nicotine and vaporizer products would prove a solution to the country’s issue, while still allowing the government to prosper from a high cigarette tax.
The Future of Smoking in Australia
Australian doctors and psychiatrists, including Wodak, have long been urging local lawmakers to lift the current vape ban in Australia.
Based on the research, there is an obvious solution to their problem. However, we have yet to see what strategies, if any, will be initiated to combat the recent data collected about smoking rates in Australia.
Are you a resident with an opinion on smoking rates in Australia? What do you think about the vape ban in Australia?
Share your thoughts; join the conversation on this Facebook thread.