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Around three million smokers and vapers have again been overlooked by health authorities with today’s decision by the federal government to not allow the sale of heated tobacco products in Australia.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has rejected an application by Philip Morris Limited (PML), which would have permitted the sale of heated tobacco products, a form of smoke-free product that heats tobacco rather than burning it, resulting in a significant reduction in the number and levels of harmful chemicals emitted compared to cigarette smoke.

The TGA’s decision follows recent moves by the federal government to prohibit personal importation of another smoke-free product – nicotine-containing e-cigarettes – and is the latest development making it even more difficult for adult smokers and vapers to access better alternatives to cigarettes.
PML Managing Director Tammy Chan said the government’s stance on smoke-free products is increasingly at odds with other countries and comparable international regulators, adding that heated tobacco products are already available in 50 other countries.

“Study after study shows that scientifically substantiated smoke-free products that do not generate smoke, while not risk-free, are a much better alternative for adult smokers who would otherwise continue to smoke cigarettes,” Ms Chan said.

In a recent government survey, three in 10 smokers in Australia said they do not intend to give up smoking despite it being the best thing they could do. That statistic hasn’t changed in over a decade.

“It’s time Australian authorities recognise that many adult smokers will continue to smoke cigarettes – the most harmful way of consuming nicotine – unless the government rethinks its tobacco control policy. Smoke-free products can play a role in reducing smoking rates,” Ms Chan said.

Countries such as the U.K. and more recently New Zealand1 have regulated smoke-free products in a manner that encourages adult smokers to switch to them, while seeking to minimise uptake by non-smokers and youth. The UK has additionally introduced product safety standards.

On July 7, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – one of the most highly regarded health authorities in the world – authorised Philip Morris International’s tobacco heating system as a Modified Risk Tobacco Product by issuing an exposure modification order.

In so doing, the FDA concluded that a decision to authorise the marketing of this heating tobacco system with reduced exposure information was “appropriate for the promotion of public health” and “is expected to benefit the health of the population as a whole.”

“More and more regulators and health authorities around the world are acknowledging that smoke-free products are fundamentally different to cigarettes and that adult smokers should have access to these alternatives in order to make an informed choice if they would otherwise continue to smoke,” Ms Chan said.

“It’s time Australia makes smoke-free products available to adult smokers in Australia.”


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