A majority of healthcare professionals in Australia want to see tobacco harm reduction products, such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products, legalised and regulated appropriately in Australia, according to new research conducted by Frost & Sullivan.
More than 1,000 Australian adults (including current, former and non-smokers), as well as 126 healthcare professionals (including GPs, medical specialists [such as psychiatrists, surgeons and radiologists], nurses, pharmacists, and allied healthcare professionals) were interviewed as part of an opinion research study to gauge the level of understanding and attitudes towards alternatives to cigarettes.
Overall, 57% of healthcare professionals agree that alternative products to cigarettes should be legalised, provided they are strongly regulated to ensure there is no uptake among youth and non-smokers.
Managing Director of Frost & Sullivan ANZ, Mark Dougan, said: “Our research indicates that smoking remains a major area of concern in Australia, with a broad consensus that the government needs to do more.”
“Among healthcare professionals, more find that the current regulatory regime is inappropriate than are supportive of it, with a widespread view that tobacco harm reduction products can play a role in reducing smoking rates,” Mr Dougan said.
The research has also found 58% of healthcare professionals surveyed believe that if alternative products to cigarettes were legal in Australia, they would prefer smokers to try switching to these products instead of smoking cigarettes, if they are unable or unwilling to quit.
“Our research has revealed that almost two out of three smokers would ideally like to quit cigarettes, but that this has proved incredibly difficult,” Mr Dougan said.
“However, almost a third of smokers do not wish to quit. For this group, switching to tobacco harm reduction products may present less harm than continuing to smoke conventional cigarettes,” he said.
Tobacco smoking is the single most important preventable cause of ill health and death in Australia, and smoking cessation is the only intervention with the potential to reduce tobacco-related morbidity and mortality in the short and medium term. However, an emerging category of products, known as Tobacco Harm Reduction products, offers an alternative for smokers unwilling or unable to quit.