Tobacco Control and Smoke-Free Environments

The ACT Government's Future directions for tobacco reduction in the ACT 2013-2016 (Future Directions) document was launched on 31 May 2013 on World No Tobacco Day. The Future Directions document focuses on two key action areas for further development: restricting access to tobacco and restricting places of tobacco use. A range of strategies and implementation timeframes are outlined in the Future Directions document.


In the ACT, there are a number of smoke-free environments. Smoke-free environments can encourage people to quit smoking and reduce the likelihood of young people taking up the habit.

Smoking is not permitted in enclosed public places, outdoor eating and drinking places and at underage functions under the Smoke-Free Public Places Act 2003 (the Act). The ban on smoking in outdoor eating and drinking places and underage functions came into effect on 9 December 2010.

Smoking in Cars with Children

Tobacco smoke poses a serious health risk. Tobacco smoke contains harmful chemicals that are easily inhaled. Exposure has been linked to serious illnesses including asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, sudden infant death syndrome and respiratory infections. Children are more susceptible to the health effects of tobacco smoke due to their developing bodies. This effect is compounded when in the confined space of a car.

Even short exposure to tobacco smoke can have negative health consequences, as there is no safe amount of tobacco smoke. Winding down car windows, holding cigarettes out of the window or blowing smoke outside the car is not enough to protect children.

The Smoking in Cars with Children (Prohibition) Act 2011 was passed in the ACT Legislative Assembly on 20 October 2011. The Act will make it an offence to smoke in a vehicle in the ACT when a child under the age of 16 is present. The new law will be enforced from 1 May 2012.

The law will be enforced by ACT Policing who are authorised to stop motor vehicles. Under the new laws, if you are stopped and it is found that an offence has occurred, a $250 on the-spot fine may be issued. If the matter goes to court, a fine of up to $5,500 may be issued.

For more information on the ban on smoking in cars with children, please contact the Health Protection Service on (02) 6205 1700.

Smoking in cars with children information sheet

Smoking in cars with children poster

Smoke-free outdoor eating and drinking areas

All outdoor eating and drinking areas across the ACT became smoke-free on 9 December 2010 under the Smoke-Free Public Places Act 2003.

An outdoor eating and drinking area is:

  • a public place where tables and chairs are provided for customers to consume food purchased from an on-site service such as a restaurant, café, food van or take-away store; or
  • all liquor licensed outdoor areas at venues across Canberra.

Certain liquor licensed venues such as pubs, clubs, taverns and bars may choose to designate part of their liquor licensed outdoor area as a Designated Outdoor Smoking Area (DOSA).

A DOSA is designed to be an area where people who wish to smoke may take their drink while they have a cigarette break before returning to their friends in non-smoking areas. They are separate to other non smoking outdoor areas and are subject to stringent rules such as no food or drink service and no eating.

In the ACT, footpaths and other outdoor spaces adjacent to outdoor eating and drinking areas are usually public land. As the Act prohibits smoking in outdoor eating and drinking areas, smoking is not banned in these other outdoor areas. If smoke from these areas is drifting into a premises’ outdoor eating or drinking area, you may wish to ask the proprietor of the establishment if they could ask smokers to move further away as a courtesy to other customers.

However, there is no legal requirement that these smokers move further away.

The ACT currently has one of the lowest smoking rates in Australia. Education and awareness about the harm of environmental tobacco smoke continues to grow within the community.

Further information on smoke-free areas including frequently asked questions can be found below or from

Guide to Outdoor Eating and Drinking Areas in the ACT

Guide to Smoke-free outdoor eating and drinking areas in the ACT (updated 11 Nov 2010)

Licensed premises that choose to have a Designated Outdoor Smoking Area (DOSA) must display a notice near the DOSA. This notice must show certain conditions of the area and a diagram of the DOSA. To assist licensees in creating this notice, suggested wording can be found here:

Notice for DOSA template

These tools have been developed to assist you and your business inform your customers of the upcoming changes. Please print them off as required.

Smokefree Poster

Smokefree coasters

Smokefree A5 flyer

Smokefree sign

Smoke-free underage music/dance functions

Smoking is prohibited at underage music/dance functions under the Smoke-Free Public Places Act 2003.

The purpose of the ban is to remove the visual cues and influence of smoking from these social events, effectively de- normalising the act of smoking. This will help to reduce the likelihood of young people experimenting with smoking, the progression to and progressing to regular smoking, while also protecting all who attend these events and protect attendees from the harmful effects of environmental tobacco smoke.

What is an underage function?

An underage function is a function that is:

  • principally for the playing of live or recorded music, i.e. music or dance events;
  • predominantly organised for persons under 18 years of age; and
  • is open to the public, or a section of the public (with or without payment).

Examples include underage music events held at licensed premises and dance events run by schools at off campus locations.

The ACT’s smoke-free legislation is an important and vital step towards achieving the goal of improved public health. Achieving this goal is expected to deliver benefits for businesses and the community through the creation of healthier social environments.

Further Information and Complaints

Compliance and enforcement of the Smoke-Free Public Places Act 2003 is with the Office of Regulatory Services. For further information about compliance of these laws or to make a complaint, please contact the Office of Regulatory Services on 6207 3000 (Fair Trading).

The Office of Regulatory Services website contains many resource materials. Please check this website for updated information. The material on this website is for historical information and may not contain up to-date information.