Tobacco Control, Smoking Products and Smoke-Free Environments

The ACT Government is committed to protecting the public from known and potential harms associated with smoking products, such as tobacco and electronic cigarettes.

Tobacco smoking remains a leading cause of preventable death and disease in Australia. Tobacco smoking is responsible for the death of up to two-thirds of Australian smokers aged 45 years and over, and is a primary risk factor for various cancers, respiratory and cardiovascular disease, and other illnesses.

Tobacco not only harms users, but exposes those around them to harmful second-hand tobacco smoke. Second-hand smoke contains a mixture of particulate matter and thousands of chemicals, many of which are toxic or cancer-causing. There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke.

What is a smoking product?

The Tobacco and Other Smoking Products Act 1927 defines a smoking product as a tobacco product, herbal product, personal vaporiser or personal vaporiser related product. A personal vaporiser is commonly referred to as an electronic cigarette or e-cigarette.

What are personal vaporisers and electronic cigarettes

 

Personal vaporisers are also known as electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and include devices such as e-cigars, e-pipes, vape pens, hookah pens and e-hookahs. A personal vaporiser is a device designed to produce a vapour that the user inhales.

Personal vaporisers and electronic cigarettes are considered tobacco products and come in a variety of shapes, sizes and styles.

For more information about personal vaporisers and electronic cigarettes in the ACT, please visit the ACT Health Electronic Cigarettes webpage. 

 

Are there restrictions on the sale of tobacco products in the ACT?

The Tobacco and Other Smoking Products Act 1927 places various restrictions on the display and sale of smoking products in the ACT.  Businesses that sell smoking products must have a valid licence to sell smoking products by retail or wholesale and comply with the Act.

In the ACT, smoking products must not be:

  • sold to people who are younger than 18 years of age;
  • purchased for a person who is younger than 18 years of age;
  • displayed, advertised or promoted at the point-of-sale;
  • included in customer reward schemes, promotions, sponsorships or product giveaways; or
  • sold by vending machine.

Additionally, cigarettes must not be:

  • sold in quantities of fewer than 20 cigarettes;
  • sold if declared as a prohibited smoking product ie. some fruity, sweet or confectionery-like tobacco products that may be attractive to children.

These measures are designed to reduce access to smoking products, including by children, and minimise the harms associated with tobacco and electronic cigarette use.

Are there restrictions on where people can smoke in the ACT?

Under ACT law, smoking is banned:

  • in all enclosed public places, including shopping centres, cinemas, office buildings, buses, taxis, restaurants, pubs and clubs;
  • in outdoor eating and drinking areas;
  • in underage music/dance functions;
  • in cars when children under the age of 16 years are present; and
  • within 10 metres of play equipment at ACT Government managed play spaces
  • at public transport stations, within five metres of all public bus, train, light rail and taxi stops in the ACT

These bans apply to the use of all smoking products, including tobacco and electronic cigarettes.

Smoke-free policies apply at the Canberra Stadium and Manuka Oval, all ACT Government schools, ACT Government buildings and health facilities.

Certain liquor licensed venues in the ACT, such as pubs, clubs, taverns and bars, may choose to allocate part of their licensed outdoor area as a Designated Outdoor Smoking Area (DOSA).  A DOSA is designed to provide patrons with an area to take a smoking break, while protecting the community and hospitality workers from exposure to second-hand smoke. 

For further information on legislated smoke-free areas and DOSAs see the Smoke-Free Public Places Act 2003 and Smoking in Cars with Children (Prohibition) Act 2011. 

Are there penalties for smoking in a smoke-free area?

Penalties may apply for smoking or vaping in a smoke-free public place. These penalties apply to the use of tobacco products and electronic cigarettes.

People who smoke in a smoke-free area may face a fine of $110.  Fines of $440 may be issued by authorised officers if a person continues to smoke in contravention of a direction to stop smoking.

Access Canberra is responsible for enforcing the ACT’s smoke-free public places legislation.  For more information visit the Access Canberra website. The smoking in cars legislation is enforced by ACT Policing.

What further work is underway to protect the community from the harmful effects of tobacco use and second-hand smoke?

ACT Health is currently exploring options to restrict smoking at outdoor public places. 

In late 2015, the ACT Government conducted a public consultation on options for new smoke-free areas at outdoor public places. In response to community feedback on this consultation, the ACT Government has declared children's play equipment and transport waiting areas as smoke-free public places. For further information, please visit the Outdoor Smoke-Free Areas – Community Consultation webpage.

The ACT Government is committed to undertaking further community consultation prior to declaring any new place or event smoke-free.

Where can I get help to quit smoking?

Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health.  Quitting at any age will increase your life expectancy and improve your quality of life.

Smokers wishing to quit are encouraged to talk to their general practitioner.  Support and information is also available from the Quitline (13 78 48) or via the Quit Now website.

Where can I get further information on tobacco control,  smoking products and smoke-free policies in the ACT?

If you would like further information on the ACT’s smoking product or smoke-free regulations and policies, please contact the Health Protection Service via email at hps@act.gov.au or call (02) 6205 1700.

How can I have my say on tobacco control, smoking products and smoke-free issues in the ACT?

The ACT Government welcomes community feedback on regulation of tobacco, smoking products and smoke-free issues. Consultations with the community are conducted periodically through the YourSay website. 

Information on past consultations can be found at the following links: