Smoking and tobacco laws in Australia

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

Tobacco control legislation review

We are currently reviewing our tobacco control laws, with new legislation passing both houses of parliament on 7 December 2023. Find out more about our legislation review process.

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 through excise on tobacco products.

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, depending 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

Tobacco products are illicit when taxes have not been paid, whether that be through:

  • the illegal growing of domestic crops
  • tobacco that has been smuggled into the country from overseas.

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

Illicit tobacco manufacturers, importers and suppliers, or those found in possession of illicit tobacco, can face up to 10 years imprisonment and heavy fines if caught.

Enforcement of illicit tobacco legislation is a shared responsibility between Australian Government and state and territory government law enforcement agencies.

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

Other laws

E-cigarette laws

The new Public Health (Tobacco and Other Products) legislation will restrict advertising and promotion of e-cigarettes. This will be similar to the restrictions that apply to tobacco advertising and promotion.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration are leading the Government’s reforms regarding e-cigarettes. Read more about the new e-cigarette reforms on their website.

Find out about vaping and e-cigarette laws in Australia.

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.

 

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