Tobacco retailers

Shops in Rathdowne StreetRetailers that sell tobacco have obligations under law in regard to the display and sale of tobacco products.

Further reforms to tobacco display requirements will come into effect from January 2011. More information on upcoming changes banning the display of tobacco products in retail outlets is available on the Department of Health website.

Tobacco sales to minors

It is an offence to sell tobacco products to any person under the age of 18. It is the manager or proprietor’s responsibility to ensure all staff are educated and trained prior to allowing them to sell tobacco and that this message is reinforced every six months.

Proof of age should be requested prior to sale.

Retailers must display a ‘We don’t sell  tobacco to U18s’ sign.

It is recommended that retailers display a ‘ no proof of age, no cigarettes poster’ displaying acceptable forms of ID.

  • A Victorian or interstate proof of age card
  • A Victorian or interstate drivers license
  • An Australian or foreign passport
  • A keypass

Test program

Council participates in a statewide test purchase program which is co-ordinated by the Department of Human Services in partnership with local councils. Teenagers are employed to attempt to purchase cigarettes from local tobacco retailers.

On-the-spot fines for offending retailers are $468 for individuals and $7009 for companies.

After each testing period, Council sends all tobacco retailers in the municipality letters reminding them of their responsibilities to ensure each staff member complies with the Tobacco Act.

If tobacco retailers re-offend, Council will prosecute them in the Magistrates’ Court where they would be subject to fines of up to $14, 018 for individuals and $70,092 for companies.

Temporary outlets

Since January 2010, it has been prohibited to sell tobacco products from a point-of-sale that is located in a temporary or mobile structure or enclosure, whether or not a part of that structure is permanent. This includes a retail outlet established in an area or premises for the duration of a specific sports, music or arts-related event, such as the Australian Grand Prix or Big Day Out.

Staff Training

Managers and proprietors are responsible for the correct training of their staff in respect to Tobacco Act requirements.

Every six months, all staff must receive information which explains:

  • They must not sell tobacco products to a person under the age of 18 years in any circumstances, even if the tobacco products are for, or claimed to be for, a person over that age.
  • They must sight an evidences of age document for a person before selling a tobacco product to the person (to ensure they are over 18).
  • A warning that if tobacco products are sold to a person under the age of 18 years in disregard of the above two points, the seller commits an offence against the Tobacco Act.

Staff must sign an acknowledgement form that they have received and understood the training.

Signage requirements

Retailers need to display a health warning or quit smoking sign, either at the premises entrance or next to where tobacco products are offered for sale.

Retailers must not display signs outside their retail outlet advertising the sale of cheap or discount cigarettes.

Advertising / tobacco display

The information below applies to tobacco retailers until 1 January 2011 when further restrictions on the display of tobacco products will be introduced. More information on upcoming changes is available on the Department of Health website.

Retailers cannot have any tobacco advertising within the retail outlet such as flags, posters, stickers, desk pads or backlit signs.

Retailers cannot display cartons at their retail outlet at all.

Single cigarettes or packets of less than 20 cigarettes are not permitted to be sold.

Retailers must display all dry tobacco products (cigarettes, roll your own tobacco, dry cigars) within a maximum display area of four square metres. This does not include cigars contained in humidors. Cigars in humidors are not included in the four square metres.

Retailers must only display front facings of tobacco products at one point of sale within the retail outlet.

Retailers can sell from more than one point of sale, provided the tobacco front facings of tobacco products at the second point of sale are covered up by price tickets (or are out of view). Similarly at a third or fourth point of sale tobacco products must be covered up by price tickets (or be out of view).

Retailers must ensure tobacco on display complies with product line definition. Tobacco can only be displayed if it differs from other products on the basis of:
a. Trademark;
b. Brand name;
c. Nicotine or tar content; or
d. Flavour.

Retailers can only display one of each kind (product line) of tobacco product. Different size packages are not treated as different product lines. Therefore retailers cannot display different sizes of cigarette packages with the same flavour, tar content, brand name or trademark. For example, they cannot display Brand A, 25s, Menthol, 4mg as well as Brand A 30s, Menthol, 4mg. However, you can display each of Brand A, Menthol and Virginia, in 4mg, 8mg, 12mg or any other tar content.

Retailers can use price tickets to obscure different pack sizes of the same product line to provide the customer with product information. These price tickets can be as large as the largest tobacco product on display, with information about the tobacco products such as the price, brand, size, country of origin and product category information. The price tickets can be in up to four colours, provided these colours are used on other price tickets throughout the retail outlet.

Retailers can use price boards up to 1.5 metres by 1.5 metres in the retail outlet at point of sale. They can display an unlimited number of price boards within the premises. The price boards can contain information about tobacco products available for sale such as price, brand name, size and discount information.

More resources

Department of Health website - Tobacco

Further information
Health Protection Unit
9205 5166

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