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Tobacco advertising bans

What advertising is banned?

Tobacco advertising laws ban messaging that may persuade people to buy, smoke or use tobacco. It bans ads and promotions that are:

  • in writing, images, audio or video
  • signs or symbols, such as trademarks
  • published for the public to see and hear, including:
    • on the internet or other electronic media (such as mobile phones)
    • in films, videos or radio programs
    • on products such as t-shirts

You should know about the laws if you:

  • sell tobacco products
  • work in publishing, broadcasting or advertising
  • have dealings with the tobacco industry (for example, as an adviser or consultant)

You can find the laws on the Federal Register of Legislation website:

Are there any exceptions?

Yes. Under federal laws, tobacco advertising is not an offence if it is:

  • for political purposes
  • anti-smoking
  • sharing information within the tobacco trade industry
  • accidentally or incidentally broadcast or published — for example, if you film a documentary about someone and there is a tobacco advertising poster on their study wall
  • at the point of sale on the internet — for guidance on what’s allowed, see the internet point-of-sale checklist and the internet point-of-sale guide

Tobacco company sponsorship and advertising at retail points of sale are generally covered by state and territory tobacco advertising laws.

Why are advertising bans important?

The laws aim to limit messaging that may persuade people to start or continue using tobacco.

Tobacco advertising laws are part of Australia’s tobacco control activities — policies and programs that aim to reduce smoking rates and tobacco-related harm in our community.

How are advertising bans administered and enforced?

We administer and enforce the federal advertising bans.

How we administer

To administer the bans, we:

  • inform the community about the tobacco advertising laws
  • keep the laws up to date and make sure the latest version is available
  • provide guidance to people who may need it
  • report each year to Parliament on breaches of the laws

How we enforce

We consider all complaints about possible breaches of the federal tobacco advertising laws.

If we think a breach has occurred, we will contact the advertiser and request they withdraw the advertising. We may refer some matters to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions or the Australian Government Solicitor for more action.

Penalties and fines may apply — these are detailed in the laws.

Do advertising bans work?

Research shows that:

  • tobacco advertising is linked to an increase in tobacco use
  • banning tobacco advertising and promotion can reduce smoking rates

Find out more about the merits of banning tobacco advertising on the Tobacco in Australia website.

Complying with tobacco advertising laws

If you need help understanding or complying with the laws, read our tobacco advertising resources.

Tobacco advertising resources

These resources will help you understand and comply with tobacco advertising laws.

If you have read our guidance and still have questions, contact our tobacco advertising team or seek independent advice.

Make a complaint

If you think someone has breached the advertising laws, contact our tobacco advertising team to make a complaint. If you ask us to, we will confirm we have received your complaint.

You can also contact the team if you have feedback about how we handled a complaint.

Contact

Tobacco advertising contact

Contact the Tobacco Advertising team for more information about advertising that encourages smoking or tobacco products. If you think someone has breached the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act 1992 you can also report that to the team.

tobaccoadvertising [at] health.gov.au

View contact

Last updated: 
8 April 2019