Health Opinion

Government dragging on better ways to help smokers pack it in

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Smoking is a major strain on the Australian healthcare system (Image by Reza Mehrad | Unsplash)

By legalising "snus", a smokeless tobacco product believed to be an effective tool for those trying to quit smoking, the Australian Government could better help smokers break the habit, writes Joshua Hagen.

THE AUSTRALIAN Government's stance on "snus", a smokeless tobacco product, has been controversial.

Despite evidence suggesting it is a helpful tool for those trying to quit smoking, snus remains illegal here while nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) are heavily taxed, making them less accessible. This raises the question: Why is the Government not supporting those who are trying to quit smoking?

Snus is a type of smokeless tobacco that comes in the form of a small pouch placed under the lip. It doesn't involve inhaling smoke, arguably making it a safer alternative for smokers trying to quit. Studies have shown snus can be as effective as NRTs in helping smokers quit and some experts argue it's even more effective.

Yet, the Australian Government has not legalised snus. This is a missed opportunity for smokers who could benefit from access to what is believed to be an effective alternative. By taxing NRTs heavily, the Government is making it harder for smokers to quit — a disappointing and short-sighted stance.

Sweden provides a positive example where snus has been used for decades, resulting in lower smoking rates and a decrease in smoking-related illnesses and deaths. In contrast, Australia has one of the highest smoking rates in the developed world and continues to struggle with negative health consequences.

Smoking is a major strain on the Australian healthcare system, leading to numerous negative health consequences and significant healthcare costs. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, smoking is a leading cause of premature death and a major contributor to chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Treating smoking-related illnesses costs billions of dollars annually and is expected to rise as the number of smokers in Australia remains high.

By legalising snus and reducing the tax on NRTs, the Australian Government could help relieve the pressure on our healthcare system, reducing the number of smoking-related illnesses and deaths. This would result in significant cost savings and improve the overall health of the Australian population. Reducing the tax on NRTs would make them more affordable and accessible for smokers — increasing their chances of quitting.

The Government's stance on snus and NRTs is misguided and fails to consider the real benefits of these products for smokers trying to quit.

By making snus accessible and reducing taxes on NRTs, the Government could help thousands quit smoking and effectively reduce the negative health impacts of smoking. It's the right thing to do.

Joshua Hagen is a seasoned professional in the hospitality industry with over a decade of experience.

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Government dragging on better ways to help smokers pack it in

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