As unbelievable as it sounds, Australia might become the world’s first major country to outlaw tobacco smoking and replace it with electronic cigarettes. According to the Sun-Herald newspaper, the former government funded large test trial to see if e-cigarettes were indeed a safer, permanent replacement for analogs.
The Australian newspaper recently revealed that the country’s previous Labor government “committed more than $1 million to a pioneering study that, by 2015, will determine whether or not e-cigarettes could be utilized to phase out traditional cigarettes altogether” as part of its anti-smoking reform. The large clinical trial will involve 1,600 smokers and will be carried out at the University of Queensland’s center for clinical research. Dr. Coral Gartner, who will shortly lead the research, said: ”These types of products have the potential to be beneficial to public health if they are used to completely replace the traditional cigarette. It would be a shame not to explore how they could be used to maximize public health while trying to minimize potential unwanted effects such as making smoking appear glamorous.” Dr. Gartner currently leads the HABIT research group (Health and Addictive Behaviour Interventions) at the University of Queensland. Her research focuses on translational research on interventions that promote behavioral change, particularly related to addictive behaviors, such as tobacco smoking.
This little piece of news is kind of mind-blowing not only because it involves the possibility of actually banning tobacco cigarettes and replacing them with e-cigarettes in a major nation, but also because that nation is Australia, where currently it’s e-cigarettes that are banned. It’s true that the Labor government has really challenged tobacco giants by taking them to court and introducing the world’s first plain-packaging laws, and vowed to ban all political donations from tobacco companies, but still this measure sounds very extreme. Virtually everyone knows how hazardous smoking is to our health but banning tobacco hardly sounds like the ideal solution. Most likely it would just create a huge black market. Why not make electronic cigarettes legal and promote them as a safer alternative instead of forcing people to give up cigarettes? If they start taking away people’s freedom, who knows where they’ll stop? Today it’s cigarettes, tomorrow, who knows?
Still, it’s way to early to tell if it will ever come to outlawing tobacco. The study is in its infancy, and no one really knows if Australia’s new Coalition Government will be as committed o the fight against tobacco.
Source: The Sun-Herald