Victoria

This fact sheet provides a summary of the new laws applicable to the retail sale, advertising and restricted places of use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes).

Changes to the law

Laws are changing from 1 August 2017 to regulate the sale, advertising and restricted places of use of e- cigarette products.
The new laws cover all e-cigarette products, including e-cigarettes themselves and e-cigarette accessories such as refill cartridges and e-liquids.
The sale, use and possession of e-cigarette products containing nicotine remains banned under Victorian drugs and poisons legislation.
Adults can continue to purchase non-nicotine e-cigarettes. They can be used in areas where smoking is not banned.

E-cigarettes

Broadly, e-cigarettes are devices that heat and vaporise a liquid that is then inhaled, simulating the act of smoking. E-cigarettes can also be known as e-shisha, e-cigar, e-pipes, e-hookahs, vape pens, hookah pens and vape pipes.
The liquid ingredients vary, however typically contain chemicals, including solvents and flavouring agents, and may or may not contain nicotine. E-cigarettes are marketed as quit aids or a ‘safe alternative’ to smoking tobacco, however they have not been proven to be safe or an effective smoking cessation aid.

Reason for the regulations

E-cigarettes are a relatively new product, and much remains unknown about the potential harms they may cause.
The new laws are a precautionary measure and are consistent with other Australian states and territories.
The reforms will:
  protect children and young people from accessing and using e-cigarettes, and limit their exposure to associated marketing
  minimise the potential health risks associated with electronic cigarettes.

Places e-cigarettes cannot be used

E-cigarettes cannot be used in smoke-free areas under the Tobacco Act 1987 including:
  enclosed workplaces
  outdoor dining areas
  within 10 metres of outdoor children’s playground equipment, skate parts and underage sporting events
  within 4 metres of entrances to, and within the grounds of, childcare centres, preschools and schools
  within 4 metres of entrances to public hospitals and Victorian Government buildings such as Victorian Government departments and courts.

Purchasing e-cigarettes

Adults can still purchase e-cigarette products that do not contain nicotine.
It is illegal to sell an e-cigarette product to a person under 18 years of age.
E-cigarette products will not be visible from anywhere inside or outside a retail shop. An exemption will apply only to certified specialist tobacconists, on airport duty- free shops and certified specialist e-cigarette retailing premises.
Additionally, advertising or promotional materials relating to e-cigarette products will not be visible.
 
Retailers will be permitted to display: 
 
  one sign letting customers know e-cigarette products are available for purchase at the shop
  a price board at point of sale to inform customers about the brands and prices of e-cigarette products.
Retailers and their employees are encouraged to ask young people for identification to ensure they do not sell e-cigarette products to people under 18 years of age.

Sampling e-cigarettes in a shop

The law prohibits retailers from providing free samples of e-cigarette products.
Additionally, the use of an e-cigarette product in enclosed workplaces such as a retail shop is also prohibited.

Compliance with the restrictions

Most people will voluntarily comply with the ban on using e-cigarette products in smoke-free areas and expect others to do so.
Inspectors, authorised under the Tobacco Act 1987, may provide information about the ban and enforce it when necessary. The first priority of the inspector is to make sure an e-cigarette user understands the ban.
Inspectors may not be able to respond to every complaint but, where circumstances allow, may attend in response.

Will the laws apply if a brand of e-cigarette is approved as a smoking cessation device by the Therapeutic Goods Administration?

The approach to regulating e-cigarette products is flexible and can accommodate changes in evidence and safety.
An e-cigarette product approved as a smoking cessation aid by the Therapeutic Goods Administration may be excluded from restrictions if it is prescribed in the Tobacco Regulations 2017.

Penalties for people using e-cigarettes in smoke-free areas

The penalties are the same as for equivalent tobacco product related offences. For example, a person who uses an e-cigarette in a smoke-free area such as an enclosed workplace or outdoor dining area may receive a fine of one penalty unit.1
More information
This fact sheet provides a summary of the new laws applicable to the retail sale, advertising and restricted places of use of e-cigarettes. It does not cover every law.
 
 
For more information:
call the Tobacco Information Line on 1300 136 775
visit the tobacco reforms website <www.health.vic.gov.au/tobaccoreforms>.
To view the exact wording of the law from 1 August 2017, visit the Victorian Government’s legislation website and search Tobacco Act 1987.