Key messages

  • Selling a tobacco product to a person under 18 years of age is illegal, and individuals and companies may receive on-the-spot fines if they are found to be in breach of this law.
  • Tobacco products and packaging must not be visible to the public from anywhere inside or outside a retail premises.
  • Retailers must also ensure that persons under 18 do not purchase tobacco products from a vending machine on their premises.
  • From 1 August 2017, the Tobacco Amendment Act 2016 will amend the Tobacco Act 1987 to regulate all e-cigarettes in the same way as tobacco products.

Laws on the sale of tobacco products make it illegal for Victorian retailers to display or promote tobacco products or packaging anywhere on their premises.

The statewide ban on the sale of tobacco products to persons under 18 also extends to vending machines on retail premises. Under the law, any vending machine that contains tobacco products must be visible to and monitored by retail staff.

From 1 August 2017, the Tobacco Amendment Act 2016 will amend the Tobacco Act 1987 to regulate all e-cigarettes in the same way as tobacco products.

Tobacco retailers - FAQs

  • What are the laws on selling tobacco products to a person under 18?

    Selling tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars or loose tobacco, to any person under 18 years of age is illegal. This includes the sale of tobacco products from vending machines.

    Vendors of tobacco products must display the following sign next to each point of sale or near the entrance of their retail outlet, where customers can easily see it.

    Don't sell Tobacco

  • Who is responsible when tobacco products are sold to a person under 18?

    The employee who sold the tobacco product is responsible. The manager or employer of the employee who sold the tobacco product (the primary offender) may also be held responsible.

  • What happens if tobacco products are sold to a person under 18?

    An individual (‘natural person’) may receive an on-the-spot fine of four penalty units. If found guilty of an offence in court, an individual may be fined up to 120 penalty units.

    A company (‘body corporate’) may receive an on-the-spot fine of 60 penalty units. If found guilty of an offence in court, a company may be fined as much as 600 penalty units.

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

  • What are acceptable forms of identification (ID)?

    Only identification that provides photographic proof of age is acceptable. This includes:

    • a Victorian or interstate proof-of-age card
    • a Victorian or interstate driver’s licence
    • an Australian or international passport
    • a keypass
    • a Victorian learner’s permit.
  • What are the penalties for breaches of tobacco laws?

    BREACH OF TOBACCO LAWS

    Infringement notice

    Maximum penalties in
    Magistrates' Court

    Natural person

    Body corporate

    Natural person

    Body corporate

    Failure to display health warning

    2 penalty units

    5 penalty units

    10 penalty units

    50 penalty units

    Failure to display U18 sign

    2 penalty units

    5 penalty units

    10 penalty units

    50 penalty units

    Display of a point of sale tobacco advertisement (general retailer)

    3 penalty units

    30 penalty units

    60 penalty units

    300 penalty units

    Sale of a product banned under a ministerial ban order

    4 penalty units

    60 penalty units

    120 penalty units

    600 penalty units

    Sale of tobacco from a temporary outlet

    3 penalty units

    30 penalty units

    60 penalty units

    300 penalty units

    Sale of single cigarettes or cigarettes in a pack containing fewer than 20

    3 penalty units

    60 penalty units

    120 penalty units

    600 penalty units

    Manager/proprietor whose staff sells tobacco to a minor

    4 penalty units

    60 penalty units

    120 penalty units

    600 penalty units

    Person who sells tobacco to a minor

    4 penalty units

    60 penalty units

    120 penalty units


    Person who supplies any benefit, coupon, voucher or any other thing in connection with the purchase of, or to promote the sale of, a tobacco product



    60 penalty units

    300 penalty units

  • Can I display tobacco products or packaging in my shop?

    No. Tobacco products and packaging must not be visible to the public from anywhere inside or outside a shop. Tobacco products include cigarettes, cigars and loose tobacco. Tobacco packaging includes individual packets and cartons of cigarettes, cigars and loose tobacco. The ban on the display of tobacco products and packaging also applies to tobacco product vending machines. Only on-airport duty-free shops and certified specialist tobacconists are exempt from these restrictions.

  • What signs must I display if I sell tobacco products?

    Tobacco retailers must display the blue A4 “We don’t sell tobacco to U/18s” sign and one of the A3 black-and-white health warning signs. These signs must be displayed next to the vending machine or near the entrance to the shop or premises or point of sale so that anyone who enters is likely to see them. Certified specialist tobacconists must also display their certificate.

    If a price board is displayed, one of the A4 graphic health warning signs must be displayed on or immediately next to it. (A certified specialist tobacconist does not need to display an A4 graphic health warning sign.)

    Health warning signs are produced by the Department of Health & Human Services and are available free of charge.

  • What must a price board look like?

    A price board for tobacco products must:

    • be no bigger than 1.5 m by 1.5 m (150 cm x 150 cm)
    • have lettering no bigger than 2.1 cm high by 1.5 cm wide
    • be printed on one side only, in either black and white or in up to four colours, none of which is fluorescent
    • not be lit or displayed in a way that makes the price board more noticeable than other signs or price tickets in the shop
    • contain one of the prescribed graphic health warnings on or immediately next to the price board. (A certified specialist tobacconist does not need to display an A4 graphic health warning sign.)
  • Can I advertise tobacco products?

    No. You must not display any branded or unbranded tobacco advertising anywhere inside or outside your shop. This includes the display of posters, desk-pads, flags, stickers, backlit tobacco advertising signs, or tobacco advertising on vending machines.

  • How will customers know the price of the tobacco products?

    There are a number of ways to assist with this and you may choose the method best suited to your shop. For example, you could refer to your price board for this information, or you could create a list of prices and keep it somewhere where your customers cannot see it.

    You can also use labels placed inside the storage unit. The drawer, room or storage unit where the tobacco products are stored must stay closed or covered until the customer asks to buy a specified tobacco product.

  • How will people know I sell tobacco products if they are not displayed?

    You may display one A4 copy of the following sign to show your customers that you sell tobacco products. The sign is produced by the Department of Health & Human Services and is available free of charge.

    We Sell Tobacco

  • How will people know what tobacco products I have for sale?

    You may use a price board to advise customers of the tobacco products available for sale in your shop. Price boards can list information about:

    • the brand of tobacco products available for sale
    • the flavour of tobacco products available for sale (for example, menthol)
    • the pack sizes available for sale (for example, 25s, 30s, cartons)
    • the prices of tobacco products available for sale, including any current discounts.
  • Who is responsible for ensuring that a tobacco product vending machine complies with the law?

    The person or company in charge of the shop or premises where the vending machine is located is legally responsible for the vending machine, and must make sure that no person under 18 years of age purchases tobacco products from it.

    This person or company must also make sure that:

    • tobacco products and packaging are not displayed inside or outside the vending machine
    • the vending machine is located in an appropriate place within the shop or premises
    • all prescribed signs are displayed on or near the vending machine.
  • Where can tobacco product vending machines be located?

    It is illegal for the occupier of a premises to permit a person under 18 years of age to obtain a tobacco product from a vending machine. Therefore, tobacco product vending machines must be visible to and monitored by staff.

    Vending machines may only be located:

    • in the bar areas of licensed premises within the line of sight of, and not more than five metres from, the outer edge of the bar counter
    • at approved venues and casinos within the line of sight of a service counter
    • at bottle shops immediately next to the service counter.
  • What can tobacco product vending machines display?

    The same laws apply to tobacco product vending machines as to other tobacco retail outlets. Tobacco products or packaging must not be visible inside or outside the vending machine.

  • How will people know the vending machine has tobacco products for sale?

    You may display one A4 copy of the following sign to show your customers that you sell tobacco products. The sign is produced by the Department of Health & Human Services and is available free of charge.

    We Sell Tobacco

  • How will people know the price of the tobacco products in the vending machine?

    Vending machines can display prescribed price tickets to show price and other information about the tobacco products for sale.

    Price tickets:

    • must be no bigger than 5 cm wide and 7 cm high
    • must have lettering no bigger than 2.1 cm high by 1 cm wide
    • must be printed in either black and white or in the corporate colours of your shop or outlet (up to four colours, none of which is fluorescent).

    Brand a blue

    Price tickets can list:

    • the name of the product line
    • the strength of the product line (for example 4 mg, 8 mg)
    • the flavour and number of items contained in the product line (for example menthol, 30s)
    • a barcode or similar identifying code of the product line
    • the country of origin of the product line, including any symbol representing the country of origin.

Contact details

Contact details

  • Tobacco Information Line

    Department of Health & Human Services

    For information about tobacco control in Victoria

    • Telephone Number:1300 136 775