Legislation banning the sale of cigarettes to minors is potentially a cost-effective means of reducing smoking rates among adolescents. Such legislation has been in existence in Australia for over 80 years. Two studies examined the retail industry's adherence to the sales ban in two regions of New South Wales in 1990. The first study was a survey of 1,849 12- to 15-year-old adolescents from 12 high schools in New South Wales, providing data on self-reported purchasing of cigarettes from retail outlets by minors. In all, 38 per cent reported having purchased cigarettes illegally. A second study was undertaken to determine the proportion of retail shops which sell cigarettes to apparently underage youth. Two 16-year-olds who looked young for their age attempted to purchase cigarettes from 101 different retail outlets in one region of New South Wales. No challenge about age was made for 70 per cent of purchases, and proof of age was requested on only 15 per cent of occasions. The results suggest that legislation banning sales of cigarettes to minors requires strong enforcement procedures to be effective.