The Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT) has recently established an Oceania chapter (SRNT-O) – and HMRI’s Professor Billie Bonevski is its inaugural founding President.
The SRNT has more than 1000 members in over 40 countries around the globe and is the only professional association dedicated to the support of researchers, academics, treatment professionals and people working in the field of nicotine and tobacco research.
Researchers in Australia, New Zealand and the Oceania region have long punched above their weight in this field of research – from research into the implementation of plain packaging and graphic health warnings on cigarette packages to New Zealand’s world-first smoke-free goal – Oceania has long invested in the health of their nations with tobacco-control policies.
Oceania has a unique and diverse Indigenous culture and there is a disproportionately higher smoking prevalence in Indigenous communities. Addressing this health crisis is a priority, which is why increasing the representation of researchers in this region is an important focus of SRNT.
Professor Bonevski is excited about the opportunity that this new chapter affords researchers in our region. “This will give us the chance to showcase our region to the rest of the world,” she said. “It will also allow us to build the capacity of newer researchers in the field.”
A passionate mentor and equity advocate, Professor Bonevski plans to build on the mentoring programs she’s worked on at the University of Newcastle for Early and Mid Career researchers. “We have so many new researchers who are doing amazing work in this field, this gives us the opportunity to share it with the world.”
The team is looking forward to continuing the debate into tobacco control issues such as the introduction of e-cigarettes and vaping products – which are still restricted in Australia, but are available in New Zealand.
The team is now working on the first Oceania chapter meeting, to take place alongside next year’s Oceania Tobacco Control Conference to be held in Sydney in 2019.