Smokers interested in visiting Australia might want to hurry up and book their travel as the country could become the first major nation to ban smoking.
A federal government-funded trial is about to test the viability of electronic cigarettes as a safer, permanent replacement for tobacco, according to dnaindia.com.
The electronic cigarettes, known as 'E-cigarettes,'' are battery-powered devices that simulate the effects of smoking by heating a nicotine liquid into vapor, which the user then inhales and exhales.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that while the gadgets have been hailed as a safer substitute for cigarettes, there is no comprehensive scientific research into the health risks of inhaling vapor.
The Sydney Morning Herald also noted that the Sun-Herald can reveal that as part of its anti-smoking reform agenda, the previous Labor government committed more than $1 million to a pioneering study that, by 2015, will determine whether or not e-cigarettes could be utilized to phase out traditional cigarettes altogether.
''These types of products have the potential to be beneficial to public health if they are used to completely replace the traditional cigarette. It would be a shame not to explore how they could be used to maximize public health while trying to minimise potential unwanted effects such as making smoking appear glamorous,'' said Coral Gartner, who will lead the trial of more than 1,5000 smokers at the University of Queensland's centre for clinical research.
Australian Medical Association president Steve Hambleton said Australia was the global leader in tobacco control and should not let its guard down.
''Plain packaging is having real impact now, as is the pricing strategy. The end for tobacco is coming,'' Hambleton said.
As usage of e-cigarettes increases, health implications remain hazy. In May, the French government sparked outrage among its nation's one million e-cigarette users by banning the devices in public spaces.