Easy guide to the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act 1992


Page last updated: 28 August 2007

Purpose of the guide

The Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing has produced this guide. It aims to help the public understand the Commonwealth Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act 1992 (‘the Act’).

It has been designed to assist:
  • people who sell tobacco products (such as tobacconists, service stations and grocery shop owners);
  • those whose work involves publishing or broadcasting (like advertising agents and people who work in the media); and
  • people who deal with the tobacco industry (like sporting or cultural groups seeking sponsorship).
This guide explains, using examples, what is and is not allowed under the Act. It also explains why there is a ban on tobacco advertising in Australia. However, the guide is provided for general information only and you should not rely on the information in this guide as a legal interpretation of the Act for the purpose of a particular matter. Anyone who needs a legal interpretation of the Act should seek independent legal advice before any action or decision is taken on the basis of the material in this guide.

You can download an up-to-date version of the Act from the ‘Comlaw’ website (www.comlaw.gov.au). You can also download an up-to-date version of the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Regulations and Guidelines from this site.

Why is tobacco advertising banned?

Tobacco advertising is banned because it promotes a product that is highly addictive and lethal.

The aim of the tobacco advertising ban is to help prevent smoking uptake and reduce smoking rates. The goal is to improve the health of all Australians.

Tobacco remains one of the largest preventable causes of disease and premature death in Australia and kills over 15,000 Australians each year. It is estimated to cost the Australian community approximately $21 billion in social costs per year.1

Passive smoke, also known as Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS), is a combination of poisonous gases and breathable particles that are harmful to health, particularly that of children. Smoking near babies and children exposes them to ETS. Children exposed to ETS experience serious illnesses such as pneumonia, middle ear infections and asthma attacks.

Around three million Australians are smokers. Most of these people are addicted to nicotine. For this reason, it is not currently possible for the Australian
Government simply to make tobacco illegal. Instead, the Government has initiated a number of measures to limit the harm of tobacco use. The ban on tobacco
advertising is one of those measures.

Historically, tobacco advertisements have used images and messages that feature health, success, youth and leisure. The constant linking of cigarettes with such messages distracts people from the reality that smoking causes illness and death.

Tobacco advertising is a powerful influence that increases the use of tobacco products, particularly by children and young people.

Further reading on tobacco and health effects

Tobacco on the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing website: www.health.gov.au/tobacco

Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy (2004)
National Tobacco Strategy 2004-2009
National Drug Strategy website: www.nationaldrugstrategy.gov.au

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare website: www.aihw.gov.au

1Based on statistics compiled for 2006 Intergovernmental Committee on Drugs, National Drug Strategy Annual Report July 2004 – June 2005.