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Smoking and tobacco laws in Australia

Smoking laws help to reduce smoking rates and tobacco-related harm in our community. Australia's laws include tobacco advertising bans, plain packaging laws, laws on smoking in public, and age limits on who can buy tobacco.

Advertising laws

The Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act 1992 bans any advertising in Australia that may encourage or persuade people to smoke or use tobacco products.

Most state and territory governments also have laws that restrict tobacco sponsorships, point-of-sale advertising and the retail display of tobacco products.

Find out more about advertising bans.

Tobacco packaging laws

Under the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011, all tobacco products in Australia must be in plain packaging. This means that packaging must be in a certain colour and cannot display logos, brand images or promotional text. There are also restrictions on how brand names appear.

Find out more about plain packaging.

Under the Competition and Consumer (Tobacco) Information Standard 2011, all tobacco products must also display certain text and graphic health warnings.

Find out more about the health warnings.

Mandatory standard for reduced fire risk cigarettes

All cigarettes manufactured or imported into Australia must comply with the mandatory standard for reduced fire risk.

The standard is set out in the Trade Practices (Consumer Product Safety Standard) (Reduced Fire Risk Cigarettes) Regulations 2008.

Taxes

The Australian Government taxes tobacco products to make them less affordable. 

The tobacco excise rate is indexed based on average weekly ordinary-time earnings (AWOTE). This helps to ensure that tobacco products do not become more affordable over time.

The Treasury is responsible for excise tax policy in Australia.

To find out more, go to pricing and taxation of tobacco products on the Tobacco in Australia website.

Smoke-free laws

State and territory governments are mainly responsible for smoke-free laws in Australia. Smoke-free laws:

  • protect people from second-hand smoke,
  • encourage people to quit smoking
  • help to de-normalise smoking in the community

In all states and territories, it’s illegal to smoke in enclosed public places including:

  • public transport such as trains, planes and buses
  • office buildings
  • shopping malls
  • schools
  • cinemas
  • airports

There are differences in laws in each state and territory, including:

  • how exemptions are given
  • laws on smoking in outdoor areas

In all states and territories in Australia, it is also illegal to smoke in a car when a minor is inside. A minor is someone under the age of 16, 17 or 18 — it depends on the state or territory you are in.

To find out more, visit the Youth Law Australia website and select the state you are in.

Illicit tobacco

The Australian Government has laws and measures in place to reduce the illicit tobacco trade.

In August 2018 the Treasury Laws Amendment (Illicit Tobacco Offences) Act 2018 came into effect. Illicit tobacco manufacturers or producers face up to 10 years imprisonment and heavy fines if caught.

In July 2018, the Illicit Tobacco Taskforce (ITTF) was set up to combat the illicit tobacco trade.

E-cigarette laws

In Australia, it is illegal to sell or buy nicotine for use in e-cigarettes. Nicotine is a dangerous poison under The Poisons Standard.

In most states and territories, it is also illegal to use e-cigarettes in places where smoking is illegal. Find out more about e-cigarette laws in your state or territory:

Importing nicotine for personal therapeutic use with an e-cigarette

Under the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) Personal Importation Scheme, you may be able to import up to a three-month supply of nicotine for use in e-cigarettes if:

  • a registered Australian doctor has prescribed it for you
  • it’s for a therapeutic reason — such as to help you quit smoking
  • it’s legal to use nicotine for this reason in your state or territory
  • there’s no other TGA-approved product that can help you

Other laws

Duty-free tobacco

There is a limit to the amount of tobacco you can bring into Australia. For details, see duty-free concessions on the Australian Border Force website.

Smokeless tobacco products

It is illegal to commercially import or sell smokeless tobacco products in Australia — this includes oral snuff, tobacco paste and powder and chewing tobacco.

Age limits

It is illegal to sell or supply tobacco products to young people under the age of 18. In some states, the police can confiscate your cigarettes or other tobacco products if they think you are under 18. To find out more, visit the Youth Law Australia website and select the state you are in.

Last updated: 
8 April 2019

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