Department of Health

Key messages

  • Smoking is prohibited within four metres of the entrances to all public hospitals and registered community health centres.
  • This ban aims to protect people from exposure to second-hand smoke, to reduce the presence of smoking in public places, and to help those trying to quit.
  • Occupiers are required to display an acceptable ‘No smoking’ sign at an entrance.

By law, smoking is banned within four metres of an entrance to any public hospital or registered community health centre in Victoria.

Public hospitals and registered community health centres may also have policies in place that further limit smoking within their outdoor areas. These policies apply in addition to the statewide legislative ban.

The following diagrams show examples of where the smoking ban applies at a hospital.

Hospital door entrance

Hospital campus

Smoke-free hospitals and health services FAQs

  • The purpose of the smoking ban is to:

    • protect the community from exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke
    • further ‘de-normalise’ smoking in the community - the less people see smoking in public places, the less they will tend to think that smoking is acceptable rather than harmful
    • support people who have quit or are trying to quit smoking.
  • ‘Public hospital’ is used broadly to refer to any of the following entities within the meaning of the Health Services Act 1988:

    • denominational hospitals
    • multi-purpose services
    • privately operated hospital (Mildura Base Hospital)
    • public health services
    • public hospitals.

    A registered community health centre is an independent community health centre that is registered by the Department of Health and Human Services.

  • 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 registered community health centre as well as other organisations, such as private businesses, any shared entrances that are used to access both areas of the building would be subject to the smoking ban.

    Any entrances that lead only to premises not included in the smoking ban, such as the private offices, would not be subject to the ban.

  • The ban does not apply:

    • to entrances to a private hospital, unless the entrance also provides access to a public hospital
    • 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).
  • The smoking ban is intended to complement and provide legislative support to any existing smoke-free policies at public hospitals and registered community health centres.

    If a public hospital or registered community health centre has its own smoking ban in place, the statewide ban will act as a minimum standard, with any further requirements put in place by the premises applying in addition to the legislative ban.

    For example, if a hospital has a smoke-free policy for the entire premises, both the hospital’s policy and the statewide ban will apply. However, inspectors authorised under the Tobacco Act 1987 can only take action to enforce the legislative ban.

  • The occupier is required to display signs in the smoke-free area/s. The Department of Health and Human Services has a range of promotional materials available free of charge which can be used to raise awareness of the ban.

  • No. Occupiers and staff are not expected to enforce the ban and are not empowered under the law to do so.
    Compliance with the ban is expected to occur through changed community expectations.
    Consultation undertaken by the Department of Health and Human Services shows strong community support for banning smoking at public places.
  • Signage: Occupiers are required by law to install acceptable ‘No smoking’ signs at entrances (pedestrian access points) to their premises. Signs are available to order 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 available to help inform staff, visitors and the general public about the smoking ban at hospitals and health centres. 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 08 October 2015


Contact details

Postal Address: Tobacco Control Section, Department of Health & Human Services, GPO Box 4057, Melbourne, VIC 3001

Tobacco Control Section

Contact details

For information about tobacco control in Victoria

Tobacco Information Line Department of Health & Human Services

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