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Australian retailers will be badly hurt but the Federal Government’s most recent decision regarding the sale of smoke-free tobacco products, the National Retail Association (NRA) said today.

After the Government announced a backflip on its previous ban on personal imports of e-cigarettes and vaping products, NRA Chief Executive Officer Dominique Lamb said the policy position was getting weirder by the day.

“Last month, smoke-free tobacco products were deemed so harmful that the government decided they could only be sold at a chemist, by prescription, with visits to a doctor every three months,” Ms Lamb said.

“Today, the same government says it will reverse its looming ban on importing vaping products, so individuals will be free to buy them from overseas dealers and have them shipped into Australia.

“The result is that these products are so tightly restricted that they are treated as a controlled drug, and also so loosely restricted that anyone can import them.

“The only people who will be banned from selling smoke-free tobacco products will be the tens of thousands of mum-and-dad retailers who currently rely on cigarette sales but are desperate to offer their customers a less harmful alternative.

“This government clearly supports overseas retailers as much as it supports big-box corporate pharmacy. It’s just a shame that it won’t support small, local Australian businesses.”

The National Retail Association has consistently called for small businesses who currently sell cigarettes and other nicotine products to be given access to less harmful alternatives such as vaping or e-cigarettes.

The NRA has labelled the plan to restrict smoke-free tobacco sales to pharmacies as “the worst of both worlds”, as it will detract from the tobacco revenue that many small businesses rely on, without allowing them access to a replacement product.

“But if that previous decision was the worst of both worlds, today’s decision is out of this world altogether. There seems to be no logic underpinning this knee-jerk policy making. On behalf of retailers who are already on their knees, we call on the side of politics that purports to care about business to stop favouring overseas operators and give Aussie mums and dads a fair go.”