Introduction of Tobacco Plain Packaging in Australia

Since 1 December 2012, all tobacco products sold, offered for sale, or otherwise supplied in Australia must be in plain packaging.

Page last updated: 27 May 2016

Plain packaging is a key part of Australia’s comprehensive package of tobacco control measures, which include:

  • Updated and expanded health warnings : the Competition and Consumer (Tobacco) Information Standard 2011, which commenced on 1 January 2012 and took full effect from 1 December 2012, requires health warnings to cover at least 75 per cent of the front of most tobacco packaging, 90 per cent of the back of cigarette packaging and 75 per cent of the back of most other tobacco product packaging;
  • legislation to restrict internet advertising of tobacco products in Australia, effective from 6 September 2012;
  • record investments in anti-smoking social marketing campaigns;
  • the 25 per cent tobacco excise increase in April 2010;
  • staged increases in excise and excise-equivalent customs duty on tobacco and tobacco-related products: 12.5 per cent increases occurred on 1 December 2013, 1 September 2014 and 1 September 2015. The next staged increase of 12.5 per cent will occur on 1 September 2016;
  • a reduction in duty free concessions for tobacco products; and
  • stronger penalties for tobacco smuggling offences.
The objectives of tobacco plain packaging as set out in the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 are to improve public health by discouraging people from using tobacco products, encouraging people to give up using tobacco products, discouraging relapse of tobacco use and reducing exposure to tobacco smoke. Tobacco plain packaging contributes to these objectives by regulating the retail packaging and appearance of tobacco products in order to:
  • reduce the appeal of tobacco products to consumers;
  • increase the effectiveness of health warnings; and
  • reduce the ability of the retail packaging of tobacco products to mislead consumers about the harmful effects of smoking or using tobacco products.

Preventative Health Taskforce

Extensive research evidence to June 2009 in support of plain packaging is set out in the reports of the National Preventative Health Taskforce, a group of Australia’s leading public health experts. The reports of the Taskforce and the government response are available at the Preventative Health Taskforce’s website.

Market Research Reports

In 2011, consumer and market research reports were commissioned on Market Testing of New Health Warnings and Information Messages for Tobacco Product Packaging and Market Research to Determine Effective Plain Packaging of Tobacco Products. The research reports informed the approach to the new graphic health warnings and the design of plain packaging for cigarettes. The reports are available from the Department of Health’s website.

Consultations on the Draft Tobacco Plain Packaging Legislation

Consultation occurred both through formal public consultation processes and through targeted consultation with stakeholders during the development of the Tobacco Plain Packaging Legislation. Details of the formal consultation processes, including consultation papers and submissions to the consultations, are available on the archive of the yourhealth website on the Australian Government Web Archive.

Tobacco Plain Packaging Legislation

The Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011, which received Royal Assent on 1 December 2011, required all tobacco products sold in Australia to be sold in plain packaging from 1 December 2012. The Tobacco Plain Packaging Regulations 2011, applying to cigarettes, were made by the Governor-General in Council on 7 November 2011. The Tobacco Plain Packaging Amendment Regulations 2012, made on 8 March 2012, amended the Tobacco Plain Packaging Regulations 2011 to incorporate additional plain packaging specifications for non-cigarette tobacco products.

The legislation and regulations are available from the following links:
  • Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011
  • Tobacco Plain Packaging Regulations 2011

Requirements for plain packaging of tobacco products

The requirements for plain packaging of tobacco products are set out in the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 and the Tobacco Plain Packaging Regulations 2011.

Further information on plain packaging of tobacco products, including how to make a complaint about a potential breach of the legislation and resources for manufacturers/importers/suppliers, is available from the Plain Packaging of Tobacco Products page.

Key Facts and Figures

For key facts and figures on tobacco sales, consumption and prevalence in Australia, visit the Tobacco Control Key Facts and Figures page.