There is a substantial history of health-related law in Australia, but only recently has this included a significant amount of state regulation pertaining to tobacco promotion, sale and public use. The important question is: under what circumstances do regulation and law enforcement work? Rigorous, energetic, long-term local law enforcement on the supply of tobacco to minors demonstrates success in preventing uptake. A model for success combines education, enforcement and publicity; a model used to some effect in alcohol law. Future directions in regulation might include on-the-spot penalties; ensuring the law is simple and has community support; striving for sufficient resources, enthusiasm and skills; and making the tobacco retail industry pay some of the costs of regulating that industry.