Nature conservation

Parks, reserves and protected areas

No smoking in parks policy

Smoking is prohibited in all national parks in New South Wales. NSW parks receive more than 39 million visits a year, and banning smoking will allow the community to experience them in a safer and cleaner environment.

Cigarette butts - which can smoulder for up to three hours - can cause bushfires, and form over a third (35%) of the measured litter in NSW. They can also be ingested by wildlife and washed into waterways, and spoil the beauty of natural places.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in NSW. Under the Smoke-Free Environment Act 2000 smoking is banned in some outdoor places such as near children's play equipment, at public swimming pools, sports grounds, public transport stops, within four metres of the entrance to a public building, and in commercial outdoor dining areas.

The National Parks and Wildlife Regulation 2009 (NPW Regulation) prohibits smoking in parks, except in commercially leased or licensed accommodation or residential accommodation in parks (clause 15A, effective from 1 May 2016).

Scope and application

This Policy applies to all lands acquired or reserved under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974, including lands managed by National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) under Part 11 of the Act.


This Policy aims to:

  • explain the benefits to the community of banning smoking in parks
  • explain where the ban on smoking will apply, and which parts of parks are exempt
  • explain how the ban on smoking will be implemented.


  1. Smoking of all cigarettes and other smoking products is prohibited in areas managed by NPWS under clause 15A of the National Parks and Wildlife Regulation 2009, except for exempt areas as described in this Policy.

Why is smoking banned in national parks?

  1. Banning smoking in parks will increase the community's enjoyment of and safety in parks by reducing the risk of fires, and by reducing littering and exposure of people to passive smoking.
  2. Banning smoking can help to reduce the risk of bushfires in parks from people discarding unextinguished cigarette butts. An unextinguished cigarette butt can smoulder for up to 3 hours.
  3. Cigarette butts contain hazardous chemicals such as cadmium, arsenic and lead that are partially filtered out during smoking. When a butt is discarded, these chemicals leach into the environment contaminating soil and water.
  4. Cigarette butts can also be ingested by wildlife, be washed into waterways and spoil the beauty of natural places.
  5. Banning smoking will also reduce the effects of passive smoking on park visitors, particularly in high visitor use areas.

What parks will the ban on smoking apply to?

  1. The ban on smoking will apply to all parks gazetted under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974, and to other lands managed by NPWS.
  2. Smoking will be banned in most areas in parks, including picnic areas, campgrounds, beaches, lookouts, walking tracks and on park roads.
  3. Smoking is not permitted in campgrounds and hard-roofed accommodation managed by NPWS, consistent with the terms and conditions for booking those types of accommodation.

Will any parts of parks be exempt?

  1. Yes. The ban will not apply to residences in parks (such as in historic and alpine villages); at overnight commercial accommodation managed under lease or licence; and in housing used by NPWS staff, except where smoking is prohibited under an existing NPWS policy or under the conditions of a lease or licence.
  2. NPWS may grant a consent under the NPW Regulation to exempt an area or areas in a park from the ban for a specified event and for a specified period of time. A board of management for a Part 4A park may grant a consent to exempt the park or an area in the park from the ban.

How will the smoking ban be communicated to visitors?

  1. Messages about the ban on smoking will be included in visitor publications, on the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) and national parks visitor websites, on OEH social media sites, and in other NPWS publications such as brochures and annual entry passes.
  2. No smoking signs may also be erected at major park entrances, in visitor use areas and at visitor information centres.

How will the ban on smoking be implemented?

  1. NPWS staff in parks and at NPWS information centres will inform and educate park visitors about the ban.
  2. Authorised NPWS officers such as rangers will have the power to enforce the ban, however on the spot fines will only be issued as a last resort after signs are erected.

Will there be dedicated smoking areas in places such as picnic areas and campgrounds?

  1. No. It would not be possible to have designated smoking areas in parks and at the same time meet the smoking ban's purpose to reduce fire risk, littering and effects of cigarette smoke on other visitors.

Does the ban include the use of electronic cigarettes?

  1. No. The ban does not apply to the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) in parks.

What about NPWS employees who smoke?

  1. The ban on smoking applies to all NPWS employees, volunteers and other people working in parks.
  2. OEH will assist NPWS workplaces where employees wish to give up smoking. Employees can also go to the ICanQuit site, or Quitline, or call 13 78 48.

What about vehicles passing through parks and boats in parks?

  1. The ban on smoking applies to park roads, but does not apply to Roads and Maritime Services or Council owned or managed roads.
  2. The ban on smoking applies to people using boats in a park if the water body - a stream, creek, river, estuary, dam, lake or reservoir - is within the boundaries of the park.

Firefighting and emergency operations

  1. The ban on smoking applies to all volunteers, including NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) and State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers. However NPWS recognises that it is sometimes impractical for volunteers to comply with the smoking ban when they are fighting fires on long shifts (e.g. for up to 12 hours) or attending incidents in large or remote parks.
  2. NPWS will adopt a common sense approach to applying the smoking ban in those circumstances, or in other similar situations such as extended search and rescue operations in parks.


Cigarette means any object or device used to smoke tobacco products, synthesised tobacco-like products, or illegal substances. 'Cigarette' does not include electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) for the purposes of this Policy.

Park means a reserve gazetted under the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974, including a national park, nature reserve, historic site, Aboriginal area, State conservation area, karst conservation reserve, or regional park, or any land acquired by the Minister under Part 11 of the Act .

Smoke means to smoke, hold or otherwise have control over, an ignited smoking product. (Source: Smoke-free Environment Act 2000).

Smoking product means any tobacco or other product that is intended to be smoked (source: Smoke-free Environment Act 2000). This includes all tobacco products used in cigarettes, pipes, cigars and water pipes, and any other product used for smoking.


Accountabilities under this policy are in accordance with the delegation of Ministerial and Director-General functions under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 and National Parks and Wildlife Regulation 2009.

This table only lists accountabilities which are additional to the legal delegations.

ParagraphPosition Accountable
11. Issue consent to exempt an area or areas in a park from the smoking ban for a specified event or period of time Regional Manager
Branch Director
Director, Customer Experience
Page last updated: 27 April 2016