NSW One Step Closer to Banning Unjustifiable Rodent Tests

RSPCA NSW has welcomed a Bill that will ban two inhumane testing methods used on rodents, the forced swim test and nasal smoke inhalation procedure, passing the NSW Legislative Council Wednesday, 7 February 2024.

The forced swim test is a widely criticised experimental procedure in which rodents, typically mice or rats, are placed in an inescapable container filled with water, forcing them to swim until they become exhausted or exhibit signs of helplessness and despair. This test is unreliably used to study depression and has faced criticism for its cruelty, as it subjects animals to severe fear and stress and can result in drowning.

The nasal smoke inhalation experiment involves restraining rodents to expose them to inhaled substances, such as smoke, by delivering it directly to their nose or head. This procedure is often used to create models to study respiratory conditions, but it has come under scrutiny due to the severe suffering and distress it inflicts.

RSPCA NSW has advocated for the cessation of these procedures as they are ethically indefensible and cause unjustifiable animal suffering as more humane alternatives for conducting this research should be adopted.

RSPCA NSW CEO Mr Steve Coleman has thanked the state’s parliamentarians who’ve recognised the suffering endured by rodents subjected to the Forced Swim Test and Nasal Smoke Inhalation procedure.

“It is our moral and legal responsibility to ensure that all research is conducted in a humane, responsible and ethical manner. It is essential to employ alternative research methods that avoid such significant animal suffering,” said Mr Coleman.

The Hon Emma Hurst MLC introduced the Animal Research Amendment (Prohibition of Forced Swim Tests and Forced Smoke Inhalation Experiments) Bill 2023 in the NSW Legislative Council, which passed on Wednesday, 7 February 2024 with support from the Minns Government.

“We are very grateful to the Hon Emma Hurst MLC for her continued advocacy on this issue and strongly support her Bill to ban forced swim and smoke inhalation procedures. We look forward to working constructively with the NSW Government and all Members of the Legislative Assembly to see this Bill pass the lower house and become law,” Mr Coleman concluded.


  • RSPCA NSW has two representatives on the Animal Research Review Panel (AARP).
  • March 2022 – RSPCA NSW made a submission to the Inquiry into the use of primates and other animals in medical research in NSW. The submission outlined the clear inherent and insurmountable animal welfare risks in these procedures. The full submission can be found here.
  • October 2022 – Portfolio Committee No. 2 (Health) published Report 59. Recommendation 1 stated, “That the NSW Government take steps to ensure the forced swim test and smoking tower test are rapidly phased out of use in medical research in New South Wales.” The full report can be found here.
  • November 2022 – RSPCA welcomed the committee’s findings and recommendations and called on legislative reform to implement a ban. See full statement here.
  • September 20, 2023 – The Hon Emma Hurst MLC tabled Animal Research Amendment (Prohibition of Forced Swim Tests and Forced Smoke Inhalation Experiments) Bill 2023. The Bill can be found here.

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