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20 July 2023

RACGP: Ban vaping and tobacco companies’ political donations

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) says new tobacco legislation should crack down on the predatory tobacco and vaping industry to help prevent younger generations getting hooked on nicotine.

In a submission to the Department of Health and Aged Care on the Exposure Draft, Public Health (Tobacco and Other Products) Legislation, the RACGP recommended the consolidated legislation: 

  • prohibit tobacco and vaping industry donations to political parties or individual politicians
  • ensure services and resources supporting smoking cessation are more accessible for harder to reach groups
  • include emerging tobacco products in the scope of the new legislation
  • add heated tobacco products to those defined in the legislation, and ensure these are covered by the proposed plain packaging and product requirement legislation
  • clarify the responsibilities of government departments and agencies so regulations are enforced
  • scrap the export exception on banned tobacco products, which could allow harmful products to be exported to other countries.

While most parties do not accept donations from the industry, Philip Morris Limited donated $110,000 to political parties in 2021-22. The nicotine and vaping company has also sought to make inroads into Australian pharmacies with high margin offers for its VEEV products.

RACGP Vice President Dr Bruce Willett said the legislation was an opportunity to close loopholes and secure a healthier future for Australia.

“Over the last few years, we’re seen a real effort from the nicotine industry to keep addiction in people’s lives,” he said.

“This is the opportunity to close loopholes and ensure the support is there to help people quit nicotine for good.

“That includes our politicians. There is no good reason for a politician to accept donations from Big Tobacco in 2023. There isn’t an argument for tapering off or nicotine substitution there – let’s make it easy for our representatives to kick Big Tobacco by banning donations.

“We’ve also raised concerns about influencer marketing and product placement of vaping products. One issue there is that it’s not clear which departments and agencies are responsible for enforcement of rules against these subtler, but effective forms of nicotine advertising.

“Someone’s genuine effort to quit can be undercut by seeing an influencer vape or smoke. That isn’t something they should be paid for. Clarifying who is responsible for enforcement will help support people to succeed in kicking nicotine.

“This is also an opportunity to ensure we’re not leaving people behind. Anyone who wants to quit nicotine should be supported to do so. Our parliamentarians should take this opportunity to ensure there is support for people from linguistically diverse and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds, people with a mental illness, and people experiencing other addiction issues have access to the support they need to quit nicotine for good.”

The RACGP publishes the flagship guide Supporting smoking cessation: A guide for health professionals addresses to help GPs and other health professionals to support patients with clinically appropriate advice and support to beat addiction.

Media enquiries

Journalists and media outlets seeking comment and information from the RACGP can contact John Ronan, Ally Francis and Stuart Winthrope via: