Department of Health

Key messages

  • Smoking is banned between the lifesaving flags, and within a 50-metre radius of each flag, at all patrolled beaches.
  • Some councils also have local laws prohibiting smoking in other beach areas.
  • Lifesavers do not have a role in enforcing the ban, but are free to remind any smoker of the ‘No smoking’ signs.

Smoking is now banned at all of Victoria’s patrolled beaches, in the areas between the red-and-yellow lifesaving flags and within a 50-metre radius of a red-and-yellow flag.

The ban applies during patrolled times, when one or more red-and-yellow flags installed by a Life Saving Victoria club are in place.

Some councils have also introduced local laws that prohibit smoking in public outdoor places, including other beach areas, and signs will indicate such bans.

No smoking resources

A brochure and factsheet on smoke-free patrolled beaches can be ordered online from the Resources and factsheets page.

Smoke-free patrolled beached - FAQs

  • Smoking is banned in the areas between the red-and-yellow flags and within a 50-metre radius of a red-and-yellow flag, in publicly accessible areas predominantly covered by sand and water. The ban will apply during patrolled hours when one or more red-and-yellow lifesaving flags has been put in place by a Life Saving Victoria club.

    The ban does not apply beyond the ‘landward edge’ of the beach’s sanded area – meaning the point where the sand ends and joins another surface such as grass or a footpath.

  • The ban will apply to patrolled river beaches, such as the beach on the Murray River in Mildura. However, in the case of a river beach the ban will not apply beyond the water’s edge or beyond the landward edge of the beach.

    The following diagram shows an example of a no-smoking area on a river beach:

    No smoking area on a river beach

    No smoking area on a river beach
  • Lots of children, young people and families visit Victoria’s patrolled beaches. Children are influenced by what they see going on around them.

    When smokers light up in their company, children notice. The more they see smoking in public places like beaches, the more they will tend to think that smoking is acceptable, rather than harmful.

    Smoking has been banned on Victoria’s patrolled beaches to protect everyone – especially children and young people – from exposure to tobacco smoke and from seeing adults smoking.

    Banning smoking on beaches also helps the environment. Cigarette butts are the most common form of litter on Victorian beaches and can release toxins and pose a choking hazard for small children.

  • Community attitudes towards smoking have changed, especially about smoking around children.

    It is anticipated that compliance with the ban on smoking at patrolled beaches will be achieved through smokers observing ‘No smoking’ signs, and the influence of friends and family members encouraging respect for the ban in specified smoke-free areas.

    Inspectors authorised under the Tobacco Act 1987 may provide information about, and if necessary enforce, the ban. Inspectors will not be available to respond to every complaint but, where circumstances allow, may attend to provide information about the ban.

  • An inspector can issue an infringement penalty of one penalty unit for smoking on a patrolled beach, and one penalty unit if a person fails to stop smoking on request by the inspector. The current value of a penalty unit is listed on the Legislation and regulations page.

    The maximum court-ordered penalty that can be issued for smoking on a patrolled beach is five penalty units. An additional penalty of five penalty units can be ordered if a person did not stop smoking when asked to do so by an inspector.

  • The initiation of the smoking ban at Victoria’s patrolled beaches was accompanied by a community awareness campaign, and ‘No smoking’ signs have been installed in key locations to remind people of the ban.

  • Lifesavers perform a valuable service keeping Victorian families safe at the beach every summer. They do not have a role in enforcing the smoking ban on patrolled beaches. However, along with any other beach user, lifesavers are free to remind any smoker of the ‘No smoking’ signs.

Reviewed 01 December 2022


Contact us

Tobacco Control Section Department of Health GPO Box 4057, Melbourne, VIC 3001

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