A model positive licensing scheme for tobacco sellers
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Cancer Council NSW, Cancer Prevention and Advocacy Division, Australia
Allen and Clarke, New Zealand
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A33
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Evidence shows retail availability of tobacco is ubiquitous and associated with higher smoking rates and relapse among attempting quitters. Few strategies to reduce availability are included in comprehensive tobacco control frameworks. This research aimed to develop a model licensing scheme to reduce the number of retailers and curb the supply of tobacco products.

A literature review was conducted to identify international best practices in retail licensing. The components of existing schemes were compiled, alongside evidence of effectiveness and applicability within the Australian regulatory environment. Expert feedback was gathered at a forum of policymakers, researchers and international guest speakers from jurisdictions where licensing schemes had been successfully implemented. Recommendations following the forum were incorporated into the model.

A model licensing scheme will be presented. This model is being promoted in Australia and potentially other developed and perhaps developing countries. A licensing scheme should cover all tobacco retailers, require an annual (re)application process and fees that ensure full cost recovery. It should include a range of measures for ensuring full compliance with retail controls, including sanctions and the ability to lose the licence for non-compliance with specific conditions or wider tobacco control laws. A licensing scheme can also be used as a vehicle for controls on density/number of retailers, and for securing useful data on the retail environment, as well as for education of customers.

A licensing scheme is a foundational step on which further regulatory steps may be required in order to reduce supply over time, such as caps on the number of licenses issued. In countries where the number of licences have been capped, smoking rates have decreased and compliance with tobacco control laws has increased. Reducing the retail availability of tobacco products must be a priority alongside other proven strategies in comprehensive tobacco control in the future.