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No smoking in national parks

Smoking of all cigarettes and other smoking products is prohibited in all NSW national parks. Did you know that around 9 billion cigarette butts are littered across Australia every year? This puts lives and property at risk, ruins beaches, spoils the beauty of our parks, and endangers wildlife.

Read more about No smoking in national parks

Since May 2016 smoking has been banned in all areas managed by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), with some minor exceptions.

The smoking ban in NSW national parks:

  • Reduces the risk of accidental bushfires from discarded cigarettes
  • Reduces littering in national parks
  • Reinforces government initiatives to reduce smoking in NSW
  • Reduces the effects of passive smoking, particularly in high use visitor areas
  • Reduces the spread of hazardous chemicals found in cigarettes (including arsenic and lead) in our precious environment

NPWS aims to reduce fire risk and littering in our parks and reserves. The NSW Government is also committed to helping to reduce smoking. With your help, we can keep our parks safe and healthy for generations to come.

Why is smoking banned in NSW national parks?

  • NSW national parks receive around 60 million visits a year. Banning smoking in national parks increases the community's enjoyment of, and safety in, these green open spaces.
  • The smoking ban reduces the risk of accidental fires started by unextinguished cigarette butts and reduces littering in national parks.
  • The ban also has obvious health benefits and helps ensure NSW is a world leader in phasing out smoking in public places.

Where does the smoking ban apply?

The smoking ban applies across all NSW national parks and other lands managed by NPWS. This includes picnic areas, campgrounds and most other accommodation, beaches, lookouts, walking tracks, and national parks roads.

Where does the smoking ban not apply?

The national parks smoking ban doesn't apply to commercial accommodation areas subject to a lease or licence, such as hotels and commercial ski lodges, however these premises are subject to restrictions to ensure compliance with the NSW Smoke-free Environment Act 2000.

The ban also doesn't apply to private residences located within a park (such as in historic and alpine villages).

NPWS may provide exemptions to the ban for areas in a park described in the No smoking in parks policy.

Will the smoking ban prevent bushfires?

Banning smoking helps reduce a source of bushfire risk, keeping park visitors and local communities safer. In Victoria, discarded cigarette butts are estimated to cause about 25 bushfires a year in parks and forests. An unextinguished butt can smoulder for up to 3 hours.

How will this ban benefit the environment?

  • Cigarette butts are the most littered item in NSW.
  • NSW has an overall litter reduction target of 60% by 2030.
  • Cigarette butts contain hazardous chemicals such as nicotine, cadmium, arsenic and lead that are partially filtered out during smoking. When a butt is discarded, these chemicals leach into the environment, contaminating our waterways and land. 
  • Cigarette butts contain over 4,000 chemicals, including 43 known carcinogens such as ammonia, nitrogen dioxide, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide and arsenic. 
  • Cigarette butts are made from cellulose acetate, a form of plastic. They aren't made from cotton wool or paper. They break down slowly and can take up to 14 years to decompose.
  • Cigarette butts can also be ingested by our wildlife, wash into waterways, and spoil the beauty of our natural places.

How will this ban be enforced?

  • NPWS will concentrate on working with the NSW Government on community education campaigns as a priority.
  • In our busiest parks there are no smoking signs in visitor use areas and at major park entrances. No smoking messages also appear on visitor publications and the NPWS website.
  • On-the-spot fines may be issued.

What on-the-spot fines will apply?

You can be fined:

  • $500 for throwing a cigarette from a vehicle under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.
  • $660 for discarding a lit cigarette under the Rural Fires Act 1997. Under a total fire ban, the fine is doubled to $1,320.
  • $300 for smoking in a park under the National Parks and Wildlife Regulation 2019.

Demerit points apply for throwing a lit cigarette from a vehicle – 5 points during standard weather conditions, and 10 when a total fire ban is imposed.