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Advertising & promotion

Since the 1980s Australia has been a pioneer in the control of tobacco advertising and promotion and today almost all forms of tobacco advertising are prohibited.

Article 13 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control  requires Parties to undertake a comprehensive ban on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. Guidelines for implementing Article 13 were adopted in 2008.

Since the 1980s Australia has been a pioneer in the control of tobacco advertising and promotion and today almost all forms of tobacco advertising are prohibited. The 2008 National Cancer Institute's Monograph 19, The Role of the Media in Promoting and Reducing Tobacco Use, summarises the primary arguments in support of comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, which include:

  • the devastating health consequences of tobacco use
  • the deceptive and misleading nature of tobacco marketing campaigns
  • the unavoidable exposure of youth to these campaigns
  • the failure of the tobacco industry to effectively self-regulate
  • the ineffectiveness of implementing only partial advertising bans.

Decades of research indicates that advertising influences the uptake of smoking by young people and more recent evidence demonstrates that advertising bans are effective in reducing both prevalence and initiation of smoking.

For further information, see Tobacco in Australia: Facts & Issues

Commonwealth laws on tobacco advertising & promotion

Almost all forms of tobacco advertising and promotion are prohibited under the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act 1992 (Cth) (TAP Act). This includes advertising in print, on TV, radio and (in more limited circumstances) online. The bans extend not only to advertisements for specific tobacco products, but also more broadly to any writing, still or moving picture, sign, symbol or other visual image, or any audible message…that gives publicity to, or otherwise promotes smoking, tobacco related trade-marks, designs and names, as well as any words or designs that are closely associated with a tobacco product. Exceptions include material that is an “accidental or incidental accompaniment” to other material.

For further information, see the Australian Government Department of Health Tobacco Advertising webpage, which includes information and fact sheets on the TAP Act and online point of sale advertising regulations.

Victorian laws on tobacco advertising & promotion

The Tobacco Act 1987 (Vic) prohibits or regulates additional areas where there is potential for tobacco to be advertised, including:

From 1 August 2017, the restrictions on advertising contained in the Tobacco Act 1987 will also apply to e-cigarettes.

For further information regarding the laws applying to e-cigarettes, see the Victorian Department of Health website on Tobacco Reforms.

Making complaints

There are a number of avenues for lodging complaints about potential tobacco advertising:

Suggested Resources

Availability of tobacco

In Australia, the law places few limits on who may sell tobacco, where and when they may sell, or the number of outlets selling tobacco.

Find out more

Further tobacco retail reform: removing the last forms of advertising

Tobacco advertising in a retail environment is of particular concern given the thousands of retail outlets that sell tobacco.

Find out more

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