Ban on smoking in outdoor dining areas

Key messages

  • From 1 August 2017, changes to the Tobacco Act 1987 mean that smoking is banned in all commercial outdoor dining areas in Victoria.
  • From 1 August 2017, smoking is banned in an outdoor drinking area if any part of that area is within 4 metres of an outdoor dining area, unless separated by a wall of at least 2.1 metres high.

From 1 August 2017, smoking will be banned:

  • in outdoor areas at hospitality and food venues used for eating food. This includes footpath dining areas, courtyards and beer gardens during times food is being eaten, or is available to be eaten
  • in all outdoor areas at food fairs. A food fair is an event where the principal activity is the supply of food for consumption at the event
  • within 10 metres of a food stall or food vendor at organised outdoor event (other than a food fair).

To complement smoke-free outdoor dining, smoking is banned in an outdoor drinking area if any part of that area is within 4 metres of an outdoor dining area, unless separated by a wall of at least 2.1 metres high. This means the two areas can be separated by either:

  • a 4 metre buffer zone; or
  • a wall of at least 2.1 metres high.

If the separation requirement is not met, smoking is banned in an outdoor drinking area. This law applies to the same venue as well as to neighbouring venues.

Resources for businesses and event organisers

The following resources explain the new laws and how to comply:

Printed guides can be ordered free of charge from the resources and factsheets page.

Obtaining 'No smoking' signage

Venues must display acceptable 'No smoking' signage to indicate smoke-free areas. Signs can be ordered free of charge from the resources and factsheets page.

What are the reasons for smoke-free outdoor dining?

There is a strong community support for smoke-free outdoor dining.

Smoke-free outdoor dining will:

  • protect the community from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke
  • de-normalise smoking behaviours, which is particularly important for discouraging children from taking up smoking
  • support people who have recently quit smoking or who are trying to quit smoking by removing smoking visual cues and triggers
  • improve Victorians' outdoor dining experience.

Smoke-free outdoor dining areas - FAQs

  • How will people know about the ban?

    An awareness and education campaign, including newspaper, radio and online advertising, will inform the public of the new law. Business owners, managers and event organisers must display ‘No smoking’ signs in outdoor dining areas.

  • How will the ban be enforced?

    There is strong community support for banning smoking in outdoor dining areas. This means most people will voluntarily comply with the smoking ban and expect others to do so.

    Inspectors, authorised under the Tobacco Act, may provide information about the ban and enforce it when necessary. The first priority of the inspector is to make sure smokers understand the ban.

    Inspectors may not be available to respond to every complaint but, where circumstances allow, may attend in response.

    Venues will raise awareness of the ban by displaying 'No smoking' signs.

  • What penalties might apply?

    The occupier, business owner or manager of the venue and individual smoking can be fined.

    An on-the-spot fine of one penalty unit  may apply to an individual who smokes in an outdoor dining area. The maximum court penalty is five penalty units.

    An on-the-spot fine of two penalty units may apply to the person in charge of a venue. The maximum court penalty is 10 penalty units for an individual or 50 penalty units for a company.

  • Does the ban apply to e-cigarettes and shisha tobacco?

    Yes. The use of e-cigarettes and smoking shisha tobacco is banned in areas where smoking is banned under the Tobacco Act, including outdoor dining areas.

Contact details

Contact details

  • Tobacco Information Line

    Department of Health & Human Services

    For information about tobacco control in Victoria

    • Telephone Number:1300 136 775