Tobacco control

Tobacco reforms

In Australia, tobacco smoking is the largest single preventable cause of death and disease.

Evidence shows that the earlier a person starts smoking, the more likely they are to become heavy smokers and experience difficulty quitting. For this reason, reducing the uptake of smoking by young people and preventing their exposure to the dangers of environmental tobacco smoke are key platforms of the Victorian Government's program to reduce the overall toll of tobacco use in Victoria.

Numerous tobacco reforms have been implemented  in recent years in Victoria as part of the Tobacco Act 1987 which have led to sustained declines in both adult and youth smoking rates in Victoria.

Reforms include:

  • the introduction of plain packaging requirements for tobacco products
  • a ban on smoking in a motor vehicle if a person under the age of 18 years is present
  • advertising restrictions
  • tough fines for the sale of cigarettes to minors
  • a ban on the sale of tobacco products from temporary outlets, and
  • a ban on the display of tobacco products at the point of sale with the exemption for certified specialist tobacconists.

The Department of Health has more information on tobacco reforms and the Tobacco Act 1987 or you can contact Council.

Sale of tobacco

Tobacco retailers have obligations under the Tobacco Act 1987 regarding the display and sale of tobacco products:

  • tobacco products and packaging must not be visible to the public
  • health warning stickers must be displayed
  • vending machine location is tightly regulated, and
  • it is against the law to sell tobacco to anyone under 18.

For more information, see the Tobacco retailer guide.

Sale of tobacco to minors

Selling tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars or loose tobacco, to any person under 18 is illegal. This includes the sale of tobacco products from a vending machine to a person under 18.

Local Councils throughout Victoria monitor tobacco sales to minors. 

Merri-bek City Council regularly operates a tobacco test purchasing program, where we employ minors (people under the age of 18) to attempt to buy a tobacco product from local retailers.

Heavy financial penalties apply for selling tobacco products to minors. The only way to avoid fines is to ensure that you and all of your staff sell tobacco in accordance with the Tobacco Act 1987.

Smoke-free places

It is illegal to smoke at these places in Victoria:

  • most enclosed workplaces, including restaurants, cafes and shopping centres
  • train stations and platforms and bus and tram shelters
  • underage events
  • outdoor areas of public swimming pools
  • within 10 metres of children's playgrounds and skate parks
  • patrolled beaches
  • enclosed licensed premises including hotels, bars, clubs, pubs and gaming rooms, and
  • outdoor dining or drinking areas as per state legislation.

Cigarette litter

It is an offence under the Environment Protection Act 1970 to litter cigarette butts. On-the-spot fines can be issued to people caught littering cigarette butts.

Report to Council

You can contact Council to report incorrect practices related to smoking and tobacco. Council investigates all reports and all reports are confidential.