Warren Lynam

‘Healthy’ smokes bid slammed

SMOKING ...

Is deadly no matter how much nicotine cigarettes have.

Kills about 15,000 Aussies a year.

Costs our economy $31.5b annually.

Health experts have condemned a cigarette company's decision to flood the Australian market with products it implies are healthier than other smokes.

A US tobacco grower billing itself as a "leader" in smoking harm reduction says a national distributor has ordered a "substantial" shipment of its new products.

One has extremely low levels of nicotine and the other has a lot of nicotine.

"The public health implications of our ... virtually nicotine-free tobacco cigarettes are enormous," the company says in a media release.

"While we make no claims for our ... cigarettes, it has been hypothesised for many years that a high nicotine tobacco, when combined with a low tar yield ... will result in smokers inhaling far less smoke and far less tar."

The company also says its Australian distributor will introduce the products through a "multi-faceted marketing campaign".

Australia has strict laws around promotion of smoking products and any marketing campaign would likely breach these rules.

Cancer Council of Australia Tobacco Issues Committee chairwoman Kylie Lindorff said the manufacturer and distributor appeared to be "intent on making a profit by exploiting the health concerns of smokers".

"It would be a huge setback if young people were misled into trying a product they thought was not harmful, or smokers believed they didn't have to quit tobacco use altogether," she said.

Anti-smoking lobbyist Simon Chapman said there was no such thing as a healthier smoke.

"This sounds like total snake oil," the University of Sydney School of Public Health professor said.

The Australian Medical Association said the products could entice people into lighting up.

"It is possible they may attract new smokers who believe the product is less harmful than traditional cigarettes," a spokesman said.

The Department of Health was unable to comment in time for publication.



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