Over half of Australians in a recent survey support getting rid of retail cigarette sales within the decade. 

Support for phasing out the sale of cigarettes is common among Victorian adults, according to the study, with almost two-thirds saying the retail sale of cigarettes should be phased out within 10 years.

Dr Emily Brennan - senior research fellow at the Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer at Cancer Council Victoria - has run a survey that asked 2,774 adults two questions:

  1. Some people believe that there may come a time when it will no longer be legal to sell cigarettes in retail outlets in Australia. Do you think this would be (a) a good thing, (b) a bad thing, (c) neither a good thing or a bad thing; or (d) don’t know/can’t say;

  2. What timeframe do you think is fair in relation to the proposed phasing out of the sale of cigarettes from retail outlets? Would you say (a) within the next 5 years, (b) within the next 10 years, (c) within the next 20 years, (d) yes, but not within the next 20 years, (e) no, not ever.

A total of 1,466 respondents (52.8 per cent) — including 145 of 457 current smokers (31.7%), 367 of 682 adults under 30 years of age (53.8 per cent) and 599 of 1,122 adults aged 50 or more (53.4 per cent) — thought it would be good were selling cigarettes in retail outlets phased out.

A total of 533 (19.2 per cent), including 181 smokers (39.6 per cent), thought it would be bad, while a total of 1,779 respondents (64.2 per cent) thought it fair to implement the phase-out within the next ten years.

This is big drop from the level of support registered in 2009 72 per cent. 

“A major tobacco control media campaign, new graphic health warnings, and new smoke-free laws may have increased awareness of tobacco control in 2009, and the phrasing of the question (2009: “will no longer be available”, 2019: “it will no longer be legal” to sell cigarettes) may also have influenced the willingness of respondents to approve the goal,” the researchers said.

“Phasing out retail tobacco sales would be favourably received by most Australians,” Brennan and colleagues concluded.

“Effective messages for bolstering support, especially among smokers and tobacco retailers, would be required. Policy pathways for successfully implementing a phase-out also require investigation.”

The study is accessible here.