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Smoking, the rules and regulations

New e-cigarette laws and changes to tobacco laws in South Australia

Under proposed changes to the Tobacco Products Regulation Act 1997, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) will be regulated in South Australia.

A key aim of the new laws is to prevent the use of e-cigarettes by children and protect people in smoke-free areas from exposure to e-cigarette vapour, while still allowing access by adults who choose to purchase these products.
The changes will ban the following:

  • sales of e cigarettes to children
  • using e cigarettes in smoke-free areas under the Act
  • retail sales of e cigarette products without a licence
  • indirect sales of e cigarettes (such as internet sales)
  • e-cigarettes advertising, promotion, specials and price promotions
  • retail point of sale displays of e cigarettes
  • e cigarette sales from temporary outlets, sales trays and vending machines.

In addition, there will be some changes to definitions, removal of unnecessary provisions, adding expiations to offences where they currently do not occur and improving the function of certain sections. Penalties and expiation fees for more than 40 offences under the Act will also increase. A definition will be included for ‘shisha tobacco’, to make it clear that offences related to tobacco products also apply to these products.

The changes are detailed in the the Government’s Tobacco Products Regulation (E-Cigarettes and Review) Amendment Bill 2018 (the Bill).
It is expected that the new laws will come into effect in the first quarter of 2019. More details about the changes will be updated when they are available.

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 around selling tobacco products

There are laws around people selling tobacco products. These laws require all retailers to hold a current South Australian Retail Tobacco Merchant's Licence and comply with all conditions of that licence at all times.

Tobacco and minors

To sell or supply tobacco products to people under 18 years of age (minors) is prohibited and carries a fine of $315. If a prosecution proceeds to court the maximum penalty is $5,000 and the possibility of licence suspension or cancellation applies. Minors employed by licenced retail stores can legally sell tobacco 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 tobacco retailer of selling tobacco products to minors or any other breaches of the law, you can report it to SA Health's Health Protection Operations. All calls are treated confidentially.

What is a tobacco product?

Tobacco product is defined under the Tobacco Products Regulation Act 1997 as:

  • a cigarette; or
  • a  cigar; or
  • cigarette or pipe tobacco; or
  • tobacco prepared for chewing or sucking; or
  • snuff; or
  • any other product containing tobacco of a kind prescribed by regulation; or 
  • any product that does not contain tobacco but is designed for smoking, and includes any packet, carton, shipper or other device in which any of the above is contained.

Waterpipes or waterpipe products, including shisha and hookah products, are considered to be tobacco products under the Act (including products that do not contain tobacco).

Matches and cigarette lighters are not tobacco products and therefore are not prohibited for sale under the Tobacco Products Regulation Act 1997.

For more information

For more information on the rules and regulations on smoking, contact SA Health's Health Protection Operations by:

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