More consistency needed in application of harm reduction principles in Australia


More consistency needed in application of harm reduction principles in Australia

Media release from Frost & Sullivan
1 minute to Read

The lack of harm reduction principles for tobacco use in Australia is inconsistent with their implementation in many other areas of public policy. Alcohol restrictions, needle exchange programmes, legalisation of medicinal cannabis, free condom programmes, and even mandatory bike helmets are just some of the harm reduction measures that have been introduced by the Commonwealth and State/Territory governments in recent years. Although the use of harm reduction principles for illegal drugs has been a key part of national policy since the 1980s, they have not been applied to tobacco.

Frost & Sullivan’s latest thought leadership white paper, Harm Reduction in an Australian Context, highlights the history of harm reduction and its application across various behaviours and products, including tobacco. The use of harm reduction principles in public health policy in Australia is also discussed, along with the current status of tobacco harm reduction policies.

To download the complimentary white paper, please visit:

"Smoke-free nicotine products (SFNPs) can potentially have a significant impact in areas where smoking rates are relatively high and there is a lack of resources to support existing smokers, such as the Northern Territory,” explained Mark Dougan, Director at Frost & Sullivan.

"Under current law, only tobacco in its most harmful form—combustible cigarettes—is legally available in Australia, while less-harmful, smoke-free alternatives such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco are generally prohibited."

This also sets Australia apart from most other developed countries, such as the UK, Canada and the US, where harm reduction principles are being applied in tobacco control policies and SFNPs are seen as an effective tool in reducing harm from tobacco use.

Research conducted by Frost & Sullivan in 2019 found a majority of healthcare professionals in Australia want to see SFNPs, such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products, legalised and regulated appropriately in Australia. The survey revealed that nearly 60% of healthcare professionals agreed that these products should be legalised, provided they are strongly regulated to ensure there is no uptake among youth and non-smokers.

Harm reduction principles are being increasingly applied to tobacco use globally, particularly through the regulated use of SFNPs, which:

  • Deliver tobacco and/or nicotine to users in a way that avoids tobacco combustion
  • Avoid much of the harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke
  • Reduce the harm from tobacco/nicotine consumption for smokers who are unable or unwilling to quit