New e-cigarette laws and other changes to tobacco laws in South Australia

On 31 March 2019 the Tobacco Products Regulation Act 1997 was renamed the Tobacco and E-Cigarette Products Act 1997The new Act includes laws for electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) products, increases in penalties and expiation fees, a new definition of ‘shisha’ and other minor administrative changes to improve the function of the Act.

The new laws are detailed in the Tobacco and E-Cigarette Products Act 1997 (the Act), and the Tobacco and E-Cigarette Products Regulations 2019.

The regulation of e-cigarette products in South Australia is focused on protecting the community from the potential harms of e-cigarettes, and reducing the likelihood that children will be attracted to these devices, while still allowing adults to access these products. E-cigarette products are regulated in a similar way to how tobacco products are regulated.

New e-cigarette product laws

As of 31 March 2019 the sale and supply of e-cigarette products in South Australia is regulated through the Tobacco and E-Cigarette Products Act 1997. The new laws cover all e-cigarette products, including e-cigarettes and e-cigarette accessories such as cartridges and liquids.

Under the Tobacco and E-Cigarette Products Act 1997, it is an offence to:

  • sell or supply e-cigarette products to a person under the age of 18 years;
  • sell e-cigarette products by retail without a Retail Tobacco and E-Cigarette Merchant’s Licence;
  • provide or offer to provide free samples, prizes, gifts or other benefits (including through sponsorship, competitions and rewards) in connection to the sale of e-cigarette products;
  • sell e-cigarette products from temporary outlets, sales trays and vending machines; and
  • use e-cigarettes in public places that are currently smoke-free under the law, including in a motor vehicle if a child under the age of 16 years is present;

Adults will still be able to buy e-cigarette products, however there is no change to the ban on the sale of nicotine for use in e-cigarettes under the Controlled Substances Act 1984.

From 1 October 2019, to allow a six month transition period for e-cigarette retailers to make changes to their business operations, it is an offence to:

  • advertise and promote e-cigarette products;
  • have e-cigarette products on display at the point of sale; and
  • sell e-cigarette products by indirect orders (including internet sales).

For e-cigarette retailers please see: Selling e-cigarettes in South Australia – Retailer Fact Sheet (PDF 336KB)

See also Frequently Asked Questions

Exemptions for the sale or supply of lawfully prescribed nicotine

From 1 October 2021, changes to the national classification of nicotine in the Poisons Standard clarify the regulation of nicotine as a Schedule 4 Prescription Only Medicine. This means that consumers will require a prescription to legally access nicotine-containing e-cigarettes and nicotine vaping products for any purpose.  

To support the lawful sale or supply of nicotine as a Schedule 4 Prescription Only Medicine, the Government of South Australia has issued a Proclamation, commencing 1 October 2021, to exempt pharmacists and medical practitioners from certain offences under the e-cigarette laws to ensure they can sell or supply nicotine-containing e-cigarette products, without committing these offences.  Read more about the Exemptions

See the Access to Nicotine Products Fact Sheet (PDF 236KB)

E-cigarette liquids

On 1 October 2021, Tobacco and E-Cigarette Products (E-Cigarette Liquid) Variation Regulations 2021 came into operation to clarify that an e-cigarette liquid is an e-cigarette product. The effects of this clarification are that:

  • e-cigarette laws, including the ban on sales to minors, advertising and display at the point of sale, as well as the indirect (including online) sales ban, apply to e-cigarette liquids; and
  • e-cigarette retailers need to comply with this clarification to the definition when selling e-cigarette liquids, ensuring flavours are not displayed.

Read more about the Regulations

Increased penalties and expiation fees under the Act

From 31 March 2019, penalties and expiation fees for more than 40 offences under the Act increased, and expiation fees were added to some offences.

In particular, a new penalty structure for the sale or supply of tobacco products and e-cigarette products to a minor means that a proprietor of a business can be fined up to $20,000 for a first offence and up to $40,000 for a second and subsequent offence, and in any other case (such as an individual vendor), the maximum penalty is $5,000.

For more information, see the Tobacco and E-Cigarette Products Act 1997 or contact Health Protection Operations, SA Health by email HealthProtectionOperations@sa.gov.au or phone (08) 8226 7100.

New definition of shisha tobacco

From 31 March 2019, a definition of ‘shisha tobacco’ is provided under section 4(1) of the the Tobacco and E-Cigarette Products Act 1997, to make it clear that existing offences related to tobacco products, such as smoking in a smoke-free area, also apply to these products. ‘Shisha tobacco’ is defined as ‘a fibrous plant product (whether or not comprised of or containing tobacco) that is designed for smoking in a shisha, hookah, water pipe or similar device.’

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an e-cigarette product?

An e-cigarette is a device that is designed to generate or release an aerosol or vapour for inhalation by its user in a manner similar to the inhalation of smoke from an ignited tobacco product.

Under the the Tobacco and E-Cigarette Products Act 1997, an e-cigarette is defined as:

  • a device that is designed to generate or release an aerosol or vapour for inhalation by its user in a manner similar to the inhalation of smoke from an ignited tobacco product; or
  • a device of a kind declared by the Minister by notice in the Gazette to be an e-cigarette.

Under the Act, an e-cigarette product means:

  • an e-cigarette; or
  • any part comprising an e-cigarette; or
  • a cartridge, capsule or other container designed to contain a liquid, aerosol, gas, vapour or other substance for use in an e-cigarette; or
  • a heating element designed for use in an e-cigarette; or
  • a battery designed for use in an e-cigarette; or
  • a product of a kind prescribed by the regulations.

Is an ‘e-cigarette liquid’ considered an ‘e-cigarette product’?

According to the Tobacco and E-Cigarette Products (E-Cigarette Liquid) Variation Regulations 2021, the following products are included as a prescribed ‘e-cigarette product’ under section 4(1) of the Act:

  •  an e-cigarette liquid;
  •  a constituent substance of an e-cigarette liquid.

What does this clarification mean for retailers that sell e-cigarette products?

 The effects of this clarification are that:

  • e-cigarette laws under the Tobacco and E-Cigarette Products Act 1997 apply to liquids. This means that offences such as the prohibition on sales to minors, advertising and display at the point of sale, as well as the prohibition on indirect (including online) sale, apply to e-cigarette liquids. This includes liquid flavours.
  • e-cigarette retailers need to comply with these changes when selling e-cigarette liquids, ensuring flavours are not displayed.

The new Regulations also include the definition of an ‘e-cigarette liquid’, which means ‘a liquid of a kind designed or intended for use in an e-cigarette’.

Is this a change to the e-cigarette laws?

No, this is a clarification to the definition of ‘e-cigarette product’ to make it clearer that e-cigarette liquids are regulated by the e-cigarette laws too.

The definition of ‘e-cigarette product’ in the Act already included ‘a cartridge, capsule or other container designed to contain a liquid, aerosol, gas, vapour or other substance for use in an e-cigarette’. The new Regulations clarify the inclusion of liquids, and liquid constituents, in the definition.

Does this clarification affect the regulation of liquid nicotine?

The Regulations do not affect the regulation of liquid nicotine, which is regulated under the South Australian Controlled Substances Act 1984. Nicotine for use in e-cigarette products cannot be lawfully sold by tobacco or e-cigarette retailers in South Australia. Read more about the Exemptions.

Is it still legal to buy e-cigarette products?

Adults can still legally buy e-cigarette products that do not contain nicotine. There is no change to the ban on the sale of nicotine for use in e-cigarette products, which is covered under the Controlled Substances Act 1984

From 1 October 2021, changes have been introduced by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to the national classification of nicotine in the Poisons Standard to clarify the regulation of nicotine as a Schedule 4 Prescription Only Medicine. The effect of this change is that consumers will require a prescription from an Australian medical practitioner to legally access nicotine-containing e-cigarettes and nicotine vaping products for any purpose, including for accessing products that are imported into Australia.

 In South Australia, it is illegal to possess a Schedule 4 poison (including nicotine) without a prescription, under section 18(3) of the Controlled Substances Act 1984.

Can e-cigarettes be used in public places that are smoke-free?

E-cigarettes cannot be used in any area in which smoking is banned under the Tobacco and E-Cigarette Products Act 1997. This includes:

  • enclosed public places, workplaces and shared areas, including inside a retail shop;
  • motor vehicles if a child under the age of 16 years is present;
  • under covered public transport areas;
  • near children’s playground equipment; and
  • outdoor dining areas and other outdoor areas that have been declared smoke-free.

What is the fine for using an e-cigarette in a smoke-free area?

The expiation fee (on the spot fine) is $105, and the maximum penalty is $750.

How do these new laws affect on-line sales?

From 1 October 2019 it is an offence in South Australia under the Tobacco and E-Cigarette Products Act 1997 for e-cigarette retailers to sell e-cigarettes if the order is placed indirectly, such as via the internet. This aligns with the ban on the sale of tobacco products by indirect means that has been in place in South Australia for many years and will help reduce the availability of e-cigarette products to children.


Further information

Further information about South Australian tobacco and e-cigarette laws for businesses can be found under the Tobacco laws web pages

or contact SA Health's Health Protection Operations by: