Tobacco health warnings

The mandatory standard prescribes the labelling, including explanatory, information, warning messages and graphics and their rotation, for tobacco products.

About the mandatory standard

A mandatory information standard exists for the health warning labelling of tobacco products. It applies to all labelling for retail tobacco products, whether manufactured in, or imported into, Australia.


Death and serious illnesses

Using tobacco products is known to cause, or increase the likelihood of, a variety of serious illnesses, including:

  • heart disease
  • cancers of the lung, throat, mouth, stomach, pancreas and bladder vascular disease and strokes
  • chronic and acute lung diseases such as asthma attacks, emphysema and bronchitis.

Serious illnesses for non-users

Women who use tobacco products during pregnancy expose their children to the risk of serious respiratory illnesses. Children exposed to second-hand smoke also have an increased risk of these illnesses, including:

  • reduced lung function, especially for infants
  • an increase in lower respiratory tract infections during infancy
  • impaired lung growth
  • the risk of developing asthma or other serious respiratory diseases in later life.

Mandatory standard

The  Competition and Consumer (Tobacco) Information Standard 2011 sets out the mandatory requirements for the health warning labelling of retail tobacco products.

Tobacco products must also comply with the requirements of the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 and the Tobacco Plain Packaging Regulations 2011. Visit Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing website for full details.

Health warning labelling

The labelling must have:

  • warning statements
  • graphics
  • explanatory messages
  • information messages


The health warnings must cover a significant part of a retail tobacco package. For example, for cigarettes they must be 75 per cent of the front and 90 per cent of the back of a cigarette packet.

Cigars and other tobacco products have their own specific requirements, all of which are clearly outlined in the mandatory information standard.


The health warnings must be rotated in accordance with the schedule prescribed in the mandatory information standard.

Does this apply to your business?

Under the Australian Consumer Law supply includes:

  • in relation to goods - (including re-supply) by way of sale, exchange, lease, hire or hire-purchase
  • in relation to services - provide, grant or confer.

This ban applies to anyone in the business of supplying this product, including:

  • manufacturers
  • importers
  • distributors
  • retailers
  • hirers.

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