Smoking causes many illnesses, including cancers, heart disease, stroke and emphysema.
Recent years has seen the emergence of e-cigarettes. E-cigarette use, or vaping, may be less harmful than traditional smoking, however, potentially hazardous substances have been identified in the aerosol of e-cigarettes and the full and long-term health impacts are not yet know.
Based on current evidence and expert advice, the Victorian Government has taken a safety first approach by regulating e-cigarettes in the same manner as tobacco products.
Tobacco laws and anti-smoking initiatives have helped to reduce smoking rates in Victoria – both in adults and young people (see Tobacco laws – the results so far).
To minimise the health effects, on individuals and the community, Victoria has laws controlling tobacco and e-cigarette sales and where people can smoke or use e-cigarettes (vape).
Victoria’s laws on smoking and e-cigarette use (vaping)
Restrictions on where you can smoke and vape
The Tobacco Act bans smoking and vaping in more public places than ever before. Specifically, you cannot smoke or vape:
- in outdoor dining are as when food is being consumed including cafes, footpath dining, restaurants and pubs, food fairs, community and street festivals.
- at enclosed restaurants, cafes and dining areas of hotels
- at licensed clubs
- at shopping centres
- in enclosed workplaces
- in a motor vehicle, if anyone under 18 is present at patrolled beaches
- at outdoor public children’s playgrounds, skate parks and sporting venues during organized under-age sporting events
- at under-age music or dance events
- at outdoor areas within public pool complexes
- within the grounds of, and within four metres of entrances to, childcare centres, kindergartens, pre-schools, and primary and secondary schools
- within four metres of entrances to children’s indoor play centres
- within four metres of entrances to public hospitals and registered health centers within four metres of entrances to certain Victorian Government buildings
- in courts or police stations
- at train stations, tram platforms, or tram and bus shelters.
Since 1 August 2017 it is also against the law to smoke or vape in outdoor dining areas of restaurants, cafes, take- away shops and licensed premises.
Restrictions on selling tobacco and e-cigarette products
It is illegal to sell any tobacco or e-cigarette product to anyone under 18 years of age. Both the person who sells the product and their employer can get into trouble, unless the employer can prove they had no knowledge of the offence and had properly trained their safe.
Inspectors from local councils investigate alleged offences and will issue a formal warning or fine, or provide education to the business owner, manager and staff.
Under the Tobacco Act:
- Tobacco or e-cigarette products cannot be sold from temporary outlets (for example at sporting, music and cultural events).
- The Minister for Health can ban the sale of certain tobacco products if they are found to appeal to young people (for example, products with a fruity or sweet flavour).
- Retailers cannot display tobacco or e-cigarette products at point of sale (with an exemption for certified specialist tobacconists and e-cigarette retailers).
- Tobacco and e-cigarette products cannot be included in shopper loyalty schemes.
National ban on tobacco advertising
The Australian Government bans tobacco advertising under the (the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act). This Act makes it an offence for a corporation to publish or broadcast a tobacco advertisement (with limited exceptions).
The Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act limits the persuasive messages and images that encourage people to start or continue smoking or using tobacco products.
In 2012 the ban was extended to the internet and other electronic media in Australia.
Plain packaging for tobacco products
- make cigarettes less appealing, especially to young people
- make the graphic health warnings on the packets more noticeable
- reduce the tobacco companies’ ability to mislead smokers about the harmful effects of smoking.
Focus on young people
Many laws related to smoking and e-cigarettes in Victoria and across Australia focuses on discouraging young people from taking up smoking or e-cigarette use. This includes bans on:
- displaying tobacco or e-cigarette products at point of sale
- smoking or vaping at playgrounds, beaches and sporting grounds
- smoking or vaping at or within four metres of entrances to schools, kindergartens, childcare centres and pre-schools
- tobacco and e-cigarette advertising
- selling tobacco or e-cigarettes to children under the age of 18
- smoking or vaping in outdoor dining areas.
Tobacco laws – the results so far
Statistics show that Victoria’s tobacco laws are helping to decrease the rate of tobacco smoking.
Four per cent of Victorian students aged 12-17, were current smokers in 2017 which has dropped from 9 per cent in 2008.
In adults, the proportion of daily smokers in Victoria almost halved between 2001 and 2019 (from 19.2 per cent to 10.2 per cent). However, the number of Victorians who had used an e-cigarette in their lifetime increased from 8.3 per cent in 2016 to 11.7 per cent in 2019.
More work is needed to help people stop smoking and to make smoking unattractive to young people. In 2009 smoking caused approximately 4000 deaths in Victoria, at a cos of about $2.4 billion to the economy. Smoking still has a huge impact on Victoria’s healthcare and productivity.
Where to get help
This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by: