Tobacco Information for Businesses

We assist the Department of Health and Human Services in providing advice and service to businesses who are affected by the Tobacco Act.

The Tobacco Act affects all businesses from those who sell cigarettes to those who have patrons smoking onsite. The focus by the Department of Health and Human Services is to denormalise smoking in our communities which has resulted in a variety of Victorian wide bans.

There are different regulations which apply to different business types.


Licensed premises, eating establishments and gaming venues

Smoking is banned:

  • in all indoor and outdoor dining areas including alfresco dining areas, courtyards and beer gardens during times food is being eaten, or is available to be eaten
  • in outdoor dining or drinking areas where the area has a roof in place and walls that cover more than 75% of the total notional wall area regardless of food being served
  • in outdoor drinking area, if any part of that area is within 4 metres of an outdoor dining area, unless separated by a 4 metre buffer zone or wall of at least 2.1 metres high.

‘No Smoking’ signs must be displayed on entering and within the smoke free area, room or venue.

A manager/proprietor is liable when an employee or agent sells tobacco to minor.

Manager/proprietor must train their employees/agents not to sell tobacco to a minor (written documentation is needed) with this training repeated every 6 months.

Sighting approved of photo ID is the only defense for selling tobacco to a minor.


Smoking bans exist at events so businesses involved should be familiar with their requirements.

Enclosed workplaces

Everyone that works or visits a workplace is required to abide by the smoking ban in enclosed workplaces, including:

  • employers
  • employees
  • voluntary workers
  • customers.

Workplace means any premises or area where one or more employees or self-employed persons (or both) work, whether or not they receive any payment for that work’. This includes any food or drink premises and shopping centres.

The occupier (person in control) of the workplace, may also be liable for breaching the Tobacco Act if smoking occurs, as well as breaching the Food Act in certain circumstances.

Building entrances

Smoking is also prohibited within four metres of an entrance to all Victorian children’s indoor play centres, public hospitals, registered community health centres and certain Victorian Government buildings (such as Centrelink, Magistrates Court etc.).

The ban at entrances applies to schools, childcare centres and kindergartens as well. Smoking is also banned on the grounds of these premises.

Tobacco retailers

The sale of tobacco to persons under the age of 18 is prohibited and can attract fines, and/or prosecution to both the person who sold, and the business owner.

  • Tobacco products must not be visible from anywhere inside or outside a retail outlet. Except ‘specialist tobacconists' certified by the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Tobacco products include cigarettes, E-cigarettes, cigars and loose tobacco, and the ban also applies to vending machines.
  • The prescribed A3-sized ‘Health Warning’ and A4-sized ‘We don’t sell tobacco to under 18’s’ signs must be displayed.
  • Price tickets and price boards need to conform to size and colour regulations.
  • No gifts/benefits can be offered with tobacco products.
  • No ‘cheap smokes’ or ‘discount cigarettes’ advertising is allowed.
  • No sale of single cigarettes or in packs of less than 20.
  • No tobacco advertising within the premises, including non-branded advertising.

Specialist tobacconists

From 2014, a person is not able to apply to have a premises certified as a specialist tobacconist. This means a person is not be able to become exempt from the tobacco product display requirements for their premises.

These changes will limit the number of businesses that can display tobacco products.

For those businesses that are currently certified specialist tobacconists, the following criteria must be met:

  • Derive 80 percent of its gross turnover for the preceding 12 months, from the sale of tobacco products; and
  • Be separated from other retail premises by a wall and does not open directly to another retail business.
  • Not sell or display products or services designed for children or adolescents.
  • Not sell food or beverages other than low risk, shelf stable foods considered to be snack foods (chips, chocolate, soft drink).
  • Foods that require temperature control to prevent them from spoiling would not be permitted.
  • Not identify the business as a newsagent through internal or external branding, and only sell local, state and national/daily/weekly newspapers.
  • Clearly identifies the business as a specialist tobacconist through the use of external branding containing the words tobacco and/or tobacconist and/or cigarettes.

Certification is ongoing unless the tobacco retailing business ends or moves to another premises. Certification also ends if the original applicant is no longer carrying on the business.

For further information, see the Department of Health and Human Services page on Certified specialist tobacconists.

Vending machines

As it is illegal to sell tobacco to people under 18, vending machines must be monitored and supervised by staff at all times.

Vending machines are only allowed in:

  • licensed premises where the vending machine is in direct sight of staff and no more than 5 metres away.
  • gaming venue and casino in sight of service counter.
  • liquor shop adjacent to service counter.

Vending machines must also display all prescribed signs on or near the vending machine.

Need to know more...

More information can be obtained by contacting Tobacco Information Line on 1300 136 775.

Page last updated: Thursday, 25 November 2021