- Smoking is banned within the grounds of, and within four metres of an entrance to, childcare centres, kindergartens, preschools and primary and secondary schools.
- The ban aims to protect children and young people from second-hand smoke and from the negative influences of people smoking.
Principals, managers and other occupiers are required to display an acceptable ‘No smoking’ sign at an entrance.
Under recent amendments to the Tobacco Act 1987 smoking is prohibited within the grounds of all Victorian childcare centres, kindergartens, preschools and primary and secondary schools.
Smoking is also banned within a distance of four metres from any public entrance to a childcare centre, kindergarten, preschool or school.
Smoke-free learning environments - FAQs
The smoking ban has two principal aims:
To protect children and young people from the dangers of second-hand smoke. The ban ensures that children and young people can enter and leave these areas without being exposed to harmful second-hand smoke. Second-hand tobacco smoke is particularly dangerous for children because they have smaller airways and less developed immune systems than adults.
To reduce the role modelling of smoking behaviours around children and young people, who are more likely to view smoking as socially acceptable when they regularly see people smoking. Banning smoking in areas used by children and young people will help to ‘de-normalise’ smoking behaviour and discourage them from taking up smoking.
Smoking is banned:
- within the grounds of all childcare centres, kindergartens, preschools and primary and secondary schools in Victoria
- within four metres of an entrance to all childcare centres, kindergartens, preschools and primary and secondary schools.
Childcare centres, kindergartens and preschools broadly refer to all children’s service premises within the meaning of the Children’s Services Act 1996, and all education and care service premises within the meaning of the Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010, with the exception of family day care service premises.
The following diagrams show examples of where the smoking ban applies at a childcare centre and at a school.
No-smoking areas at a childcare centre:
No-smoking areas at a school:
Childcare centres, kindergartens and preschools
The smoking ban applies to childcare centres, kindergartens and preschools only while they are being used to provide a children’s service or an education and care service.
The smoking ban applies at primary and secondary schools at all times, no matter whether the building or school grounds are being used for education purposes or for other purposes. The ban therefore applies when other activities are taking place outside school hours, such as fetes or sporting events, as well as during school hours.
A pedestrian access point refers to a door or gate by which a person can enter or exit the premises. It does not include emergency exits that are locked to entry, but does include shared doors or gates.
For example, where a building is occupied by a childcare centre as well as other organisations, such as private businesses, any shared entrances that are used to access both areas of the building will be subject to the smoking ban.
Any entrances that lead only to premises not included in the smoking ban, such as private offices, will not be subject to the smoking ban.
The ban does not apply:
- to private homes that provide family day care services
- to an emergency exit that is locked to entry
- to a person walking through the smoke-free area
- to a person in a motor vehicle who is driving or being driven through the smoke-free area
- to a person in an area that is separated from the smoke-free area by a road
- to a person in an outdoor drinking area located within the smoke-free area
- to a person at a residential premises (in privately owned homes or land).
Occupiers of childcare centres, kindergartens and schools are required to display signs at the entrances.
No. Principals, staff, managers and other occupiers are not expected to enforce the ban and are not empowered to do so.
Compliance with the ban is expected to occur through a public education and awareness campaign and changed community expectations.
Consultation undertaken by the Department of Health & Human Services shows strong community support for banning smoking in public places, particularly where children are present. These factors are likely to result in high levels of voluntary compliance with the smoking ban.
There is strong community support for banning smoking in public places regularly attended by children. This means that most people will voluntarily comply with the smoking ban and expect others to do so.
Inspectors authorised under the Tobacco Act 1987 may provide information about, and when necessary enforce, the ban. The first priority of an inspector is to make sure smokers understand the ban.
Inspectors have been given the power to enter childcare, kindergarten, preschool and school premises to monitor and enforce the ban. However, this is subject to permission from the occupier (for example, school principal) and, if permission is provided, the inspector must be accompanied by the occupier or a person acting on their behalf. It is anticipated that the focus for inspectors will be on those smoking within four metres of school entrances, and that the power to enter school premises will be used sparingly.
Principals, staff, managers and other occupiers can help to raise awareness of the ban by providing staff and visitors with promotional resources.
The maximum penalty for someone breaking this law is five penalty units, with an infringement penalty of one penalty unit. The current value of a penalty unit is listed on the Legislation and regulations page.
Signage: Occupiers are required by law to install acceptable ‘No smoking’ signs at entrances (pedestrian access points) to their premises. Signs can be ordered free of charge through the online order form on the Resources and factsheets page, and electronic versions can also be downloaded from this page.
Promotional materials: Posters and factsheets are also available to help inform staff, visitors and the general public about the smoking ban within learning environments. These can be downloaded or ordered free of charge through the online order form on the Resources and factsheets page.
Under the Tobacco Act 1987 an occupier in relation to an area or premises, means:
- a person who appears to be of or over the age of 16 years and who is or appears to be in control of the area or premises, whether or not the person is present in the area or on the premises; or
- a body corporate that is or appears to be in control of the area or premises.
Reviewed 01 December 2022