Key messages

  • Smoking is not permitted in any enclosed area of a workplace, including shopping centres, restaurants and licensed premises.
  • Everyone in a workplace must observe the smoking ban, including employers, employees, volunteers and customers.

Studies have found that restrictions on smoking in enclosed areas not only protect workers from exposure to environmental tobacco smoke but result in reduced smoking prevalence and consumption.

Under the Tobacco Act 1987 smoking is prohibited in all enclosed workplaces, whether the people working there are paid employees or volunteers. There are a few exemptions to this ban.

Workplaces and tobacco laws - FAQs

  • Who is affected by the law?

    Everyone who 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 work, whether or not they receive payment for that work. This includes premises such as brothels or areas such as enclosed car parks.

  • What does ‘enclosed’ mean?

    ‘Enclosed’ means an area, room or premises that is substantially enclosed by a roof and walls, regardless of whether the roof or walls or any part of them are permanent, temporary, open or closed.

  • Are any workplaces exempt from the law?

    Yes. Exemptions include:

    • residential premises not used for carrying on a business
    • a part of a residential premises used for carrying on a business while only persons who reside at the premises are in that part (that is no non-resident employees or members of the public are present)
    • a place of business occupied by the sole operator and that is not for the use of the public
    • outdoor drinking areas
    • a vehicle
    • personal sleeping or living areas of a premises providing accommodation to members of the public for a fee (such as a hotel), or residential care facilities including types of residential care services, supported residential services and aged care services
    • an area in a designated mental health service, within the meaning of the Mental Health Act 2014 declared by the Secretary
    • a detention centre established for the purposes of the Migration Act 1958 (Cwlth)
    • high-roller rooms at the casino.
  • Are employees working in the hospitality industry covered under the law?

    Enclosed areas of restaurants, cafes and licensed premises must be smoke-free under this law.

    Smoking is also banned in outdoor dining areas and certain outdoor drinking areas. More information is available on the Outdoor drinking and Outdoor dining pages of this website.

  • Is smoking permitted outside?

    The smoking ban in enclosed workplaces does not apply to outdoor areas (areas not part of the enclosed workplace).

    However, many workplaces have smoke-free policies, which go further than the Tobacco Act 1987 and restrict smoking in outdoor areas of the workplace. Employees should make themselves familiar with any workplace smoke-free policy.

    There are also other laws than ban smoking in specific settings and outdoor areas under the Tobacco Act 1987. These include:

    • outdoor dining areas and certain outdoor drinking areas. More information is available on the Outdoor drinking and Outdoor dining pages of this website
    • within outdoor areas of, and at entrances to, child care centres, kindergartens and schools. More information is available on the Learning environments pages of this website
    • at entrances to Victorian Public Premises and children's indoor play centres.

    More information is available on the Building entrances and Government buildings pages of this website.

  • What about a factory or a garage with open roller doors?

    An enclosed workplace is required to be smoke-free, regardless of whether the roof or walls are permanent, temporary, open or closed.

  • Can staff smoke in staff rooms, lunch rooms, cafeterias or rest rooms?

    Smoking is not permitted in any enclosed area of a workplace. Therefore, in most cases smoking will not be permitted in these areas at any time.

  • Can staff and visitors smoke in car parks?

    If a workplace car park is substantially enclosed by a roof and walls, smoking is not permitted.

  • Are employers required to display ‘No smoking’ signs in enclosed workplaces?

    The occupier of a retail shopping centre, a bingo area or centre, a casino or an enclosed restaurant or café must display acceptable ‘No smoking’ signs.

    Other employers are not required by law to display ‘No smoking’ signs. However, it is recommended that such signs are displayed to ensure that employees and visitors are aware of where smoking bans apply.

    ‘No smoking’ signs are available to order free of charge through the online order form on the Resources and factsheets page, and electronic versions can also be downloaded from this page.

  • Who should I contact if people are smoking in my workplace?

    It is expected that all enclosed workplaces not exempt from the law are smoke-free.

    If smoking occurs in an enclosed workplace, you can contact the Department of Health and Human Services' Tobacco Information Line on 1300 136 775 to discuss how to report a breach.

  • What are the penalties for not abiding by the law?


    Breach of tobacco laws

    Infringement notice

    Maximum penalties in
    Magistrates' Court

    Natural person

    Body corporateE

    Natural person

    Body corporate

    Person smoking in an enclosed workplace

    1 PU

    -

    5 PU

    -

    Person in charge of the enclosed workplace at the time the smoking occurs

    2 PU

    -

    10 PU

    50 PU

    Occupier of a retail shopping centre, bingo area/centre, casino or enclosed restaurant/café, where acceptable ‘No smoking’ signs are not displayed

    2 PU

    5 PU

    10 PU

    50 PU

    Note: PU = penalty unit/s

  • What is the value of a penalty unit?

    The value of penalty units is indexed annually. The current value of a penalty unit is listed on the Legislation and regulations page.

  • Are there any defences?

    Yes. The person in charge of the enclosed workplace at the time the smoking occurs is not guilty of an offence if they can prove that they did not provide an ashtray, matches, lighter or any other thing designed to facilitate smoking and that:

    • they were not aware, and could not reasonably be expected to have been aware, that smoking was occurring; or
    • they asked the person to stop smoking and informed the person they were committing an offence.

Downloads

Contact details

Contact details

  • Tobacco Information Line

    Department of Health & Human Services

    For information about tobacco control in Victoria

    • Telephone Number:1300 136 775