Last updated: September 17, 2019
Australia became a Party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on February 27, 2005.
Smoke Free Places
Smoking is prohibited in virtually all indoor workplaces, indoor public places, and on public transport, as well as in some outdoor places, through a combination of national and sub-national law - the latter of which is more stringent.
Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship
Nearly all forms of tobacco advertising and promotion are prohibited by national and sub-national laws. There are some limited exceptions such as restricted advertising at the point of sale in some specialist tobacconists, and payments to retailers and hospitality venues. Under national law, although financial or other sponsorship by the tobacco industry is not prohibited, publicity or public acknowledgment of that support is greatly restricted. Some States and Territories have banned all forms of tobacco sponsorship.
Tobacco Packaging and Labeling
Different types of tobacco products must display different warnings. Cigarettes packages must display: 1) one of 14 warning messages and corresponding graphics occupying 75 percent of the front face, 2) the same warning message and corresponding graphic with a corresponding explanatory message occupying 90 percent the back face, and 3) an information message on one full side. A Quitline logo and number must also be printed on the back face. Tobacco products in pouches or cylinders carry the same warning messages as cigarettes; however the warnings occupy 75 percent of the front face and 75 percent of the back face. Cigars must display one of five pictorial warning messages occupying 75 percent of the front face and 75 percent of the back face.
As of December 1, 2012, plain packaging of tobacco products available for retail sale in Australia was required, making Australia the first country to mandate plain packaging. The packages must be “drab dark brown,” made of cardboard, rectangular in shape, with no trademarks or other marks anywhere on the outer surface or inner surface of the package. Other than health warnings, tobacco packages may contain only: brand, business or company name; relevant legislative requirements; and any other mark or trademark permitted by regulations. Packages may not have inserts or onserts, make a noise, or produce a scent, and may not include any features designed to change after retail sale. Misleading packaging and labeling, including terms such as “light” and “low tar” and other signs, is prohibited.
Cigarette Contents and Disclosures
Contents and ingredients of cigarettes are not regulated at the national level. However, fruit and confectionery flavored cigarettes are banned in all states and territories. In addition, mint is banned in at least one state. The law does not require that manufacturers and importers disclose to government authorities information on the contents and emissions of their products.
All Australian states and territories prohibit the sale of single cigarettes and small packets of cigarettes. A law also prohibits the sale of chewing tobacco and snuff for oral use. Tobacco product sales via vending machines and the internet are regulated at the state level. The sale of tobacco products is prohibited to persons under the age of 18.
The law bans the supply of e-cigarettes except by prescription-only for smoking cessation. Note, however, that although e-cigarettes may be prescribed for smoking cessation, they have not been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for this or any other purpose. Therefore, they can be prescribed as “unapproved” products. There is no national law addressing the use of e-cigarettes in indoor public places, workplaces, and public transport. Restrictions and prohibitions on smoking and e-cigarette use generally fall within the jurisdiction of the States and Territories. Many States and Territories have introduced legislation to include the use of e-cigarettes in smoke-free legislation. As a Schedule 4 (poison) product, the law bans the advertising of e-cigarettes except in genuine professional or trade journals or other publications intended for circulation only within the medical, nursing, or pharmaceutical professions or the wholesale drug industry.
Roadmap to Tobacco Control Legislation
Tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship is governed by the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act of 1992 (TAPA) and the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Regulations, which were issued under TAPA to implement the Act. Smoking bans are largely governed by State and Territory laws. However, some federal laws address smoking in specific places. The Air Navigation Regulations prohibit smoking in aircraft, the Interstate Road Transport Regulations prohibit smoking in interstate buses, and the Airports (Control of On-Airport Activities) Regulations regulate smoking in airports.
As of December 1, 2012, plain packaging is required for tobacco products available for retail sale in Australia under the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act and pursuant to the Tobacco Plain Packaging Regulations 2011 (as amended) and the Trade Marks Amendment (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Act 2011. The Competition and Consumer (Tobacco) Information Standard 2011 establishes the health warnings that must appear on smoked and smokeless tobacco product packaging. The Competition and Consumer (Tobacco) Amendment Information Standard 2012 (No. 1) updates one of the images in the second set of warnings prescribed. The Competition and Consumer (Tobacco) Amendment (Rotation of Health Warnings) Information Standard 2013 provides minor amendments to the Competition and Consumer (Tobacco) Information Standard 2011 to place the responsibility of rotation of graphic health warnings on the manufacturer and the importer.
In October 2021, the Therapeutic Goods (Standard for Nicotine Vaping Products) (TGO 110) Order 2021 established standards for unregistered e-cigarettes containing nicotine. These standards include minimum requirements for quality and safety, such as those related to packaging and labeling, ingredients, and nicotine content.
In July 2023, the Therapeutic Goods (Poisons Standard — July 2023) Instrument 2023 was issued under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 and classified poisons into schedules. It classified nicotine as a "Dangerous Poison" under Schedule 7, with exceptions for prescription-only medicines (under Schedule 4), therapeutic use, and in tobacco prepared for smoking. This bans the supply of e-cigarettes except by prescription-only for smoking cessation.
This country’s legal measures were reviewed by our legal staff in consultation with in-country lawyers or tobacco control experts.