Tobacco and E-Cigarette Control
The Environmental Health team monitors and assesses smoke-free places, the sale of tobacco products and electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) including to minors, and tobacco advertising to create a healthier environment for those who live, work, and visit areas of the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District.
The evidence is clear that e-cigarettes in Australia are increasingly marketed to appeal to children and young Australians. The widespread marketing and use of e-cigarettes risks harm to the health of children and young people as uptake may:
- Provide a gateway/pathway to a lifetime of nicotine addiction and dependency;
- Lead to an increased uptake of smoking among young people;
- Cause direct harms to users from inhalation of a range of chemicals;
- Provide health risks to bystanders from exposure to exhaled aerosol from users;
- Lead to poisoning if children or adults swallow, inhale or absorb the liquid nicotine in e-cigarette cartridges.
As of October 2021, e-cigarettes or e-liquids containing nicotine can only be sold by a pharmacy. It is an offence to manufacture, sell or supply nicotine as Schedule 4 poison without a licence or specific authorisation. E-cigarettes without nicotine can be sold by retailers to adults 18 years and over. It is illegal to display, advertise or promote e-cigarettes.
A person who sells tobacco products to someone who is under the age of 18 years may be fined up to $55,000. It is also illegal to sell e-cigarettes and accessories, and non-tobacco smoking products including herbal cigarettes to minors. All tobacco retailers have a duty of care to ensure that they only sell tobacco products to persons aged 18 years of age or older. Retail outlets are randomly surveyed, and prosecutions are undertaken against those individuals found to sell these products to people under the age of 18. Retailers must ensure that the purchaser produces a proof of age document if necessary, and that their sales staff are appropriately trained regarding these obligations.
The sale of single cigarettes, cigarettes in packets of less than 20, unpackaged tobacco, or tobacco products without appropriate health warnings (‘illegal tobacco’ including ’chop chop’) is prohibited to any person regardless of the customer’s age. Environmental health officers at the Public Health Unit are now able to seize and destroy illegal tobacco found in tobacco retailers’ premises. An emerging issue is the sale of disposable e-cigarette devices containing nicotine. These devices are prohibited from being sold to anyone without a prescription from a doctor, however our officers have found that some retailers are selling devices to children. Education programs are regularly provided to ensure retailers are aware of their responsibilities in regard to the sale of tobacco and related products. Illicit e-cigarettes can also be seized and destroyed.
The display of tobacco products, non-tobacco smoking products, e-cigarettes, e-liquids and smoking accessories has been phased out in retail outlets including tobacconists and tobacco vending machines. Environmental health officers actively monitor retailers for breaches under the Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2008. This includes checking for the required warning signage, and price board and price ticketing restrictions.
The Smoke-Free Environment Act 2000 requires enclosed public places in NSW to be smoke-free. Environmental health officers monitor and assess compliance as required to determine what is an 'enclosed public place', and when a covered outside area is considered to be substantially enclosed for the purposes of the Act.
Many outdoor settings are now also smoke-free. This includes transport stops, sports grounds and commercial outdoor dining areas.
For more information about smoke-free environments visit:
- Smoke-free Environment Regulation 2016
- Smoke-free laws – NSW Health
- Smoke-free commercial outdoor dining laws – NSW Health
- Smoke-free outdoor areas – frequently asked questions – NSW Health
From 1 July 2018, vaping of e-cigarettes is prohibited anywhere tobacco smoking is not allowed.
Chan BS, Kiss A, McIntosh N, Sheppeard V, Dawson AH. E-cigarette or vaping product use associated lung injury in an adolescent. Med Journal of Australia 2021; 215 (7). https://doi.org/10.5694/mja2.51244
T Cains, S Cannata, R Poulos, M Ferson, B Stewart Designated “no smoking” areas provide from partial to no protection from environmental tobacco smoke, Tobacco Control 2004;13:17-22.