Selling, supplying or promoting smoking and vaping products

Your business must have a tobacco licence to sell smoking products by retail or wholesale.

There are restrictions to the sale, display, advertising and promotion of all smoking products.

For a summary of your legal obligations when selling smoking products, download the Guide to the Sale of Smoking Products in the ACT.

Smoking products

Smoking products include:

  • Tobacco products include cigarettes, cigars, roll your own tobacco, shisha smoking products and waterpipe devices.
  • Herbal products, including tobacco-free cigarettes, cigars or shisha that contains herbs or other plant matter.
  • Personal vaporisers, include disposable and refillable e-cigarettes. These are also known as vapes, vaping products, e-cigars, vape pens, hookah pens, e-hookas and other names. It may also include waterpipes and bongs. 
  • Personal vaporiser related products include e-liquids, heating elements, cartridges and mouthpieces for e-cigarettes.

Restrictions on tobacco products 

There are restrictions to the sale and supply of all smoking products.

Plain packaging

All tobacco products sold, offered for sale or otherwise supplied in Australia must be in plain packaging.

The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care provide more information about tobacco plain packaging.

Health warnings

Health warnings are required on all tobacco product packaging for retail in Australia.

The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care provide more information about health warnings on tobacco products.

Restrictions on vaping products that contain nicotine 

Vaping products that contain nicotine are schedule 4 drugs and their supply is regulated under the Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 2008.

Only pharmacies are allowed to sell nicotine vaping products in Australia.

Anyone who wants to purchase nicotine vaping products must present a valid prescription for the product from an Australian doctor.

Restrictions on sale and supply of smoking products

Sale and supply to minors

It is illegal to supply a smoking product to anyone under the age of 18 years. 

It is also an offence for a person to purchase a smoking product for the purpose of supplying it to a person under the age of 18 years.

Sellers must ask to see proof of age to ensure that no one under the age of 18 purchases a smoking product.

Access Canberra is authorised to conduct compliance testing under the Tobacco and Other Smoking Products Act 1927.

Volunteer young people may be used to test retailer compliance with sales to minors provision at any time.

Detailed information for sellers is available in the Guide to the Sale of Smoking Products in the ACT.

Point of sale requirements

Retail premises can have a maximum of one point of sale for smoking products.

Liquor-licensed premises with an on license, general license or club licence can have up to 5 points of sale for smoking products.

The point of sale must be bounded by a counter and have a cash register or registers located at that counter. Selling smoking products from cash registers on adjacent counters is considered more than one point of sale.

Licence display

Wholesale licences must be displayed in a prominent place at each premises.

Retail licences must be displayed at, or nearby, each point of sale at the premises. The point of sale is the part of a business where a customer is sold smoking products for example a sales counter.

Storage and display

Smoking products must be kept out of public view.

They must be located on the seller’s side at the point of sale and kept at least one metre away from the customer side.

Stocking and retrieval

When re-stocking, smoking products must be placed immediately into storage and kept out of view as much as possible.

When retrieving items for sale, you must make sure that products are only briefly visible.

Information at the point of sale

Licensees must display an A5 sized sign at the point of sale that says that smoking products can only be sold to people over the age of 18.

Price tickets can be displayed for available and usually available products.
Price tickets for smoking products must:

  • not exceed 15 square centimetres in size
  • contain only text printed in 12 point Times New Roman type.

Bar codes can be included on price tickets.

Documents showing the price of smoking products must not be provided to customers. If needed, a sheet with barcodes and product names can be kept under the counter for use by staff.

You can scan smoking products to confirm pricing for customers. You are also permitted to tell customers what products are available and how much they cost. You can't say anything that promotes the use of a particular product or smoking generally.

Vending machines

Smoking products may not be sold using a vending machine.

Restrictions on advertising and promotion

Advertising or promotion of tobacco products is prohibited under the Australian Government's legislation Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act 1992.

Advertising or promotion of nicotine e-cigarettes are regulated under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989

In the ACT the Tobacco and Other Smoking Products Act 1927 restricts promotion and advertising of all smoking products, including vaping products.  

Pharmacies in the ACT that sell nicotine vaping products may follow the Therapeutic Goods Administration Guidelines on Advertising Nicotine vaping products to the Australian public

A smoking product advertisement is any writing, sound, picture, symbol, light or other visible device, object or sign that promotes the purchase or use of a smoking product or a trademark or brand name, or part of a trademark or brand name, of a smoking product.

This includes:

  • signs, posters, items and devices which advertise or promote smoking or smoking products
  • tobacco product or e-cigarette posters and packaging
  • customer reward schemes for the purchase of smoking products
  • sponsorships or product giveaways 
  • competitions that promote smoking or promote a smoking product
  • films, videotapes, DVDs or other recordings that contain anything which advertises a smoking product
  • trade promotions or communications by wholesalers to tobacco retailers
  • therapeutic claims such as ‘this product will help to quit smoking’ in the case of vaping products 

Read the Easy guide to the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act 1992.

Licensing and compliance

Smoking products are regulated in the ACT through the Tobacco and Other Smoking Products Act 1927.

You can be charged or fined for failing to comply with the laws.

Find out more about tobacco licensing and compliance.

Page last updated on: 21 Jul 2023