Smoking, the rules and regulations

In South Australia, the sale, supply, promotion and use of tobacco and e-cigarette products and areas where smoking (including e-cigarettes) is regulated by the Tobacco and E-Cigarette Products Act 1997 (the Act).

The Tobacco Products Regulation Act 1997 was renamed the Tobacco and E-Cigarette Products Act 1997 as of 31 March 2019, when changes to the legislation commenced including:

  • new laws for electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) products
  • increases in penalties and expiation fees
  • a definition of 'shisha' tobacco
  • other minor administrative changes to improve the functioning of the Act, including some changes to definitions and removal of unnecessary provisions.

There are tobacco and e-cigarette product laws relating to the following areas:

Smoke-free areas

The health effects of passive smoking have become well known in recent years. Passive smoking can cause a number of serious illnesses including heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and nasal sinus cancer. Community support for smoke-free, safe and healthy environments is very high. As a result, many South Australian public areas have become voluntarily smoke-free over the past decade, including outdoor events. Other areas are smoke-free under legislation, including:

For more information on the effects of smoking, see the Risks of smoking page.

Laws regulating the sale and supply of tobacco and e-cigarette products

There are laws regulating the sale and supply of tobacco and e-cigarette products. These laws require all retailers of these products to hold a current South Australian Retail Tobacco and E-Cigarette Merchant's Licence and comply with all conditions of that licence at all times.

Tobacco and minors

To sell or supply tobacco or e-cigarette products to people under 18 years of age (minors) is prohibited and carries an expiation fee of $1,200. A proprietor can be fined up to $20,000 for a first offence and up to $40,000 for a second and subsequent offence. Minors employed by licenced retail stores can legally sell tobacco and e-cigarette products, however this is not recommended as they may be less confident about asking to see identification or refusing a sale.

Reporting a suspicion

If you suspect a retailer of selling tobacco or e-cigarette products to minors or any other breaches of the law, you can make a report to SA Health's Health Protection Operations.

What is a tobacco product?

Tobacco product is defined under the Tobacco and E-Cigarette Products Act 1997 as any of the following:

  • a cigarette
  • a cigar
  • cigarette or pipe tobacco
  • shisha tobacco
  • tobacco prepared for chewing or sucking
  • snuff
  • any other product, of a kind prescribed by regulation, that is comprised of or contains tobacco
  • any product (other than an e-cigarette product) that does not contain tobacco but is designed for smoking, and includes any packet, carton, shipper or other device in which

Matches and cigarette lighters are not tobacco products and therefore are not prohibited for sale under the Act.

What is an e-cigarette product?

E-cigarette is defined under the Tobacco and E-Cigarette Products Act 1997 as:

  • a device that is designed to generate or release an aerosol or vapour for inhalation by its user in a manner similar to the inhalation of smoke from an ignited tobacco product; or
  • a device of a kind declared by the Minister by notice in the Gazette to be an e-cigarette.

What is an illicit tobacco product?

An illicit tobacco product means a tobacco product under the Tobacco and E-Cigarette Products Act 1997 that does not comply with any of the following requirements:

  • plain packaging or health warning requirements under the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 (Cth)

  • other requirements prescribed by State regulation

  • is a prohibited good as per the Customs Act 1901 (Cth)

  • is an excisable good as per the Excise Act 1901 (Cth) on which excise duty has not been paid

 Illicit tobacco includes:

  • tobacco sold without branding, either loose (known as ‘chop chop’) or rolled up into cigarettes

  • contraband cigarettes, which are produced by legitimate manufacturers, but on which excise, customs duty and/or GST has not been paid

  • counterfeit cigarettes produced to appear like those produced by registered manufacturers.

 The production and sale of illicit tobacco in South Australia may result in required health warning messaging to be missing from tobacco packages. Additionally, illicit tobacco that has evaded the excise taxation scheme can be cheaper than legal tobacco, which can lead to increased consumption, undermining the downward trend in smoking prevalence and increasing smoking-related harm.

For more information

For further information on tobacco and e-cigarette laws, contact SA Health's Health Protection Operations by emailing:

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