19.5 Obligations relating to supply-reduction for tobacco products

Last updated: May 2024

Suggested citation: Flintoff, A., Kapa, W., Slattery, C., Zhou, S., George, A. & Liberman, J. 19.5 Obligations relating to supply-reduction for tobacco products. In Greenhalgh, EM, Scollo, MM and Winstanley, MH [editors]. Tobacco in Australia: Facts and issues. Melbourne: Cancer Council Victoria; 2024. Available from: https://www.tobaccoinaustralia.org.au/chapter-19-ftct/19-5-obligations-relating-to-supply-reduction-for-tobacco-products-


WHO FCTC Parties also commit to address the supply of tobacco, through measures to regulate its availability and production. Parties commit to the following measures:

19.5.1 Illicit trade in tobacco products (Article 15)

Article 15 requires origin marks on tobacco packaging; documenting and controlling the movement of tobacco products; legislating against illicit trade; dealing with confiscated goods, equipment and proceeds; reporting to the Conference of the Parties (COP); promoting cooperation relating to investigations, prosecutions and proceedings and considering further measures including licensing.

Australia has implemented a number of measures to deal with illicit tobacco trade including strong regulatory mechanisms establishing licensing schemes for the manufacture and storage of tobacco products; the establishment of a legislative regime creating offences relating to illicit trade; search and seizure rights for the Australian Federal Police and seizure and disposal rights by the Australian Border Force (ABF); and allocation of a role to the Australian Taxation Office and Department of Home Affairs in monitoring and enforcement activity in relation to illicit trade. The Australian Government also provides a whole-of-government forum to discuss relevant national tobacco control matters, including illicit tobacco, through the Interdepartmental Committee on Tobacco Control.1 In 2018, the Australian Government established an Illicit Tobacco Taskforce with powers to investigate illicit trade in tobacco products,2 and passed the Treasury Laws Amendment (Illicit Tobacco Offences) Act 2018, which creates a new system of criminal penalties for illicit trade in tobacco and tobacco products.3 The 2018-19 Budget included a range of measures to stop illicit trade including measures to strengthen border controls by prohibiting the importation of tobacco without a permit or in contravention of a permit condition and new requirements for importers to pay tobacco duty and tax liabilities when tobacco enters Australia.4 In 2023, the Australian Government established the role of the Illicit Tobacco and E-cigarette Commissioner within the ABF under the Public Health (Tobacco and Other Products) Act 2023 (Cth). The Commissioner’s functions include supporting enforcement, advising on new laws and strategies, assisting with government responses, and reporting on the effectiveness of measures like enforcement and taxation.5 In 2024, the Australian Government announced that it will invest $188.5 million over four years to deliver a new compliance model with states and territories to address all aspects of illicit tobacco.6 For more information, see Chapter 13, Section 13.7 Avoidance and evasion of taxes on tobacco products.

19.5.2 Sales to and by minors (Article 16)

Article 16 prohibits sales of tobacco products to children (either under 18 years or as defined in domestic or national law) and requires implementing measures to give effect to the prohibition, such as requiring signs about prohibition of sales to children and appropriate evidence of age; reducing the direct accessibility of tobacco products (such as banning sales from store shelves or ensuring vending machines are not accessible to minors); prohibiting the manufacture of sweets, snacks, toys or other objects in the form of tobacco products that appeal to minors; prohibiting free distribution, sale in single sticks, or sale in small packs of tobacco products; and prohibiting sale by persons under the age of 18.

Consistent with Australia’s obligations under Article 16 of the FCTC, Australian state and territory legislation establishes a minimum age of 18 in order to access tobacco and tobacco products in Australia. All states and territories prohibit the sale of single cigarettes and mandate a minimum of 20 cigarettes in a pack. Most states have measures in place to control the sale and/or marketing of overtly fruit or confectionary flavoured tobacco products and sale of tobacco products resembling toys that encourage young people to take up smoking. State and territory laws require signs indicating the legal age restriction at points of sale, and require the purchaser to provide identification evidence of age. The Western Australian Government introduced laws which came into effect on 18 September 2020 banning the sale of tobacco products in retail outlets by employees under the age of 18.7 Variations exist between states regarding restrictions on the sale of cigarettes via vending machines.

19.5.3 For more information on the sale of tobacco products to and by minors see Chapter 5, Section 5.21 Reducing tobacco access and supply. Provision of support for economically viable alternatives (Article 17) 

Article 17 requires Parties, in cooperation with each other and with competent international and regional intergovernmental organisations, to ‘promote, as appropriate, economically viable alternatives for tobacco workers, growers and, as the case may be, individual sellers’.

In Australia, there is no commercial tobacco farming or lawful domestic manufacturing of tobacco. For more information, see Chapter 10, Section 10.3 The manufacturing and wholesaling industry in Australia - major international companies.


1. Australian Government Department of Health. Core Questionnaire of the Reporting Instrument of the WHO FCTC. 2018. Available from: https://untobaccocontrol.org/impldb/wp-content/uploads/Australia_2018_Report.pdf

2. Australian Border Force. Illicit Tobacco Taskforce.  Last update: 11 November 2018; Viewed 30 January 2020. Available from: https://www.abf.gov.au/about-us/taskforces/illicit-tobacco-taskforce.

3. Treasury Laws Amendment (Illicit Tobacco Offences) Act. 2018 (Cth) Available from: http://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2018A00082.

4. Australian Government Department of Health. Core Questionnaire of the Reporting Instrument of the WHO FCTC 2020. Available from: https://untobaccocontrol.org/impldb/wp-content/uploads/Australia_2020_WHOFCTCreport.pdf

5. Tobacco Products Control Act 2006. Western Australia 2006; Available from: https://www.legislation.wa.gov.au/legislation/statutes.nsf/main_mrtitle_983_homepage.html.