How Old Do Employees Need to Be to Sell Cigarettes at a Petrol Station?

Australia has a variety of laws on the sale of tobacco and e-cigarette products designed to lower access to cigarettes for minors, with the aim of avoiding potential health problems and addiction starting at a young age. These laws become even more complex when a minor is at the counter, so it’s important for retailers to find answers to their questions about how old employees need to be before they can sell tobacco products to customers.

Can minors sell tobacco and e-cigarette products?

Legally, a person under 18 years of age is permitted to sell tobacco and e-cigarette products. It’s very important that if you have staff under 18 years of age selling tobacco products at your petrol station you ensure all employees are fully aware of the law related to selling tobacco and e-cigarette products as well as the consequences that may arise if this law is broken.

If cigarettes are sold to a minor or someone who may supply them to a minor, if the products are displayed with incorrect packaging or signage, or if the person selling them hasn’t received proper training, the retailer may end up facing a hefty fine. For these reasons, it’s suggested that employees under 18 years of age are fully supervised by a senior staff member when selling tobacco products.

Who is the responsible person when selling tobacco and e-cigarette products?

If tobacco or e-cigarette products are sold to a minor, multiple people can be held responsible. Legally, both the proprietor of the business and the person who sells or supplies the product on behalf of the proprietor are considered responsible in the sale or supply of tobacco products to a minor. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that whoever is selling cigarettes is fully trained and confident when asking for identification, or you could end up facing penalties along with your employees.

What counts as proper identification of age?

If the retailer suspects the person purchasing tobacco products is under 18 years of age, they should ask for identification. Generally, good practice is to require identification for anyone who could be under 25 years of age. Documents that count as legal identification of age include a driver’s license, a proof of age card, a passport, or a keypass identification card.

How do tobacco and e-cigarette products need to be displayed?

According to the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act of 2011, all tobacco products in Australia need to be displayed in plain packaging. This means that they must be within a range of allowed colors, without logos, brand images, or promotional text.

In addition, tobacco and e-cigarette retailers are required to display the Sale of Tobacco Products and E-Cigarette Products sign in size A4, which reminds customers that it is an offence to sell or supply tobacco and e-cigarette products to anyone less than 18 years of age. This sign needs to be placed in order to attract the customer’s attention.

Laws around the sale of tobacco products vary by state and territory so if you need further information please reach out to us for specific information.

What are the potential penalties for incorrect sale of tobacco or e-cigarette products?

For a responsible person, the maximum penalty for the first offence of sale or supply of tobacco products to a minor is $20,000, and for a subsequent offence is $40,000. Also, an expiation fee, or on the spot fine, of $1,200 can also be given. Lack of the proper signage can result in a maximum penalty of $1,250, and an expiation fee of $160.

In addition, if the retailer has broken tobacco sale laws or is no longer considered fit and proper, their Retailer Tobacco and E-Cigarette Merchant’s License may be suspended or cancelled.

What are the retailer’s training obligations for employees?

Employees selling tobacco or e-cigarette products are required to receive adequate training on how to avoid selling cigarettes to minors. Retailers are responsible for ensuring that all employees know the correct procedures to follow if a customer becomes difficult when asked to show identification, as well as the potential consequences for selling tobacco products to a child.

Once employees are allowed to sell tobacco and vaping products, it’s key to provide them with proper training educating them on topics such as age limits, identification procedures, and signage laws. Our ServoSkills training course offers a section on the selling of tobacco products. ServoPro members can enroll their staff in ServoSkills for free by contacting us.


By ServoPro

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