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

February 2019

From 31 March 2019, changes to the Tobacco Products Regulation Act 1997 will commence, including new laws for electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) products, an increase in penalties and expiation fees, a new definition of ‘shisha’ and other minor administrative changes to improve the function of the Act.

The new laws are detailed in the Tobacco Products Regulation (E-Cigarettes and Review) Amendment Act 2018 and the Tobacco and E-Cigarette Products Regulations 2019.

The regulation of e-cigarette products in South Australia is focused on protecting the community from the potential harms of e-cigarettes, and reducing the likelihood that children will be attracted to these devices, while still allowing adults to access these products. E-cigarette products will be regulated in a similar same way to how tobacco products are currently regulated.

New e-cigarette product laws

From 31 March 2019, the sale and supply of e-cigarette products is regulated under the Tobacco and E-Cigarette Products Act 1997. The new laws cover all e-cigarette products, including e-cigarettes and e-cigarette accessories such as cartridges and liquids.

Under these laws, it is an offence:

  • to sell or supply e-cigarette products to a person under the age of 18 years;
  • to sell e-cigarette products by retail without a Retail Tobacco and E-Cigarette Merchant’s Licence;
  • to provide or offer to provide free samples, prizes, gifts or other benefits (including through sponsorship, competitions and rewards) in connection to the sale of e-cigarette products;
  • to sell e-cigarette products from temporary outlets, sales trays and vending machines; and
  • to use e-cigarettes in public places that are currently smoke-free under the law, including in a motor vehicle if a child under the age of 16 years is present;

From 1 October 2019, to allow a six month transition period for e-cigarette retailers to make changes to their business operations, it is an offence to:

  • advertise and promote e-cigarette products;
  • have e-cigarette products on display at the point of sale; and
  • sell e-cigarette products by indirect orders (including internet sales).

Adults will still be able to buy e-cigarette products, however there is no change to the ban on the sale of nicotine for use in e-cigarettes under the Controlled Substances Act 1984.

For e-cigarette retailers please see: Selling e-cigarettes in South Australia – Retailer Fact Sheet (PDF 336KB)

See also Frequently Asked Questions

Increased penalties and expiation fees under the Act

From 31 March 2019, penalties and expiation fees for more than 40 offences under the Act will increase, and expiation fees are added to some offences.

In particular, a new penalty structure for the sale or supply of tobacco product and e-cigarette products to a minor means that a proprietor of a business can be fined up to $20,000 for a first offence and up to $40,000 for a second and subsequent offence, and in any other case (such as an individual vendor), the maximum penalty is $5,000.

For more information, see the Tobacco Products Regulation (E-Cigarettes and Review) Amendment Act 2018, or contact Health Protection Operations, SA Health by email HealthProtectionOperations@sa.gov.au or phone 08 8226 7100.

New definition of shisha tobacco

From 31 March 2019, a definition of ‘shisha tobacco’ is provided under section 4(1) of the Tobacco and E-Cigarette Products Act 1997, to make it clear that existing offences related to tobacco products, such as smoking in a smoke-free area, also apply to these products. ‘Shisha tobacco’ is defined as ‘a fibrous plant product (whether or not comprised of or containing tobacco) that is designed for smoking in a shisha, hookah, water pipe or similar device.’

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an e-cigarette product?

An e-cigarette is 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.

Under the new laws, an e-cigarette is defined 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.

 Under the new laws, an e-cigarette product means:

  •  an e-cigarette; or
  • any part comprising an e-cigarette; or
  • a cartridge, capsule or other container designed to contain a liquid, aerosol, gas, vapour or other substance for use in an e-cigarette; or
  • a heating element designed for use in an e-cigarette; or
  • a battery designed for use in an e-cigarette; or
  • a product of a kind prescribed by the regulations.

Is it still legal to buy e-cigarette products?

From 31 March 2019, adults can still legally buy e-cigarette products that do not contain nicotine. There is no change to the ban on the sale of nicotine for use in e-cigarette products, which is covered under the Controlled Substances Act 1984. Nicotine is considered a dangerous poison under the national Poisons Standard and its access is restricted as a controlled substance under all state and territory legislation. It cannot be lawfully sold in Australia for use in e-cigarettes.

Can e-cigarettes be used in public places that are smoke-free?

From 31 March 2019, e-cigarettes cannot be used in any area in which smoking is banned under the Tobacco and E-Cigarette Products Act 1997. This includes:

  • enclosed public places, workplaces and shared areas, including inside a retail shop;
  • motor vehicles if a child under the age of 16 years is present;
  • under covered public transport areas;
  • near children’s playground equipment; and
  • outdoor dining areas and other outdoor areas that have been declared smoke-free.

What is the fine for using an e-cigarette in a smoke-free area?

From 31 March 2019, the expiation fee (on the spot fine) is $105, and the maximum penalty is $750.

Further information

Further information about tobacco and e-cigarette laws for businesses can be found on the SA Health website: http://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/tobaccolaws

or contact SA Health's Health Protection Operations by:


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