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A photo of the VicHealth reception area An illustration of people holding hands, with text saying "Better health and wellbeing, for everyone".

Our history


VicHealth is the world’s first health promotion foundation. We were established by the Victorian Parliament as part of the Tobacco Act of 1987.

This Act set the standard for international best practice by banning outdoor tobacco advertising and using cigarette taxes to fund anti-smoking campaigns and buy out the tobacco sponsorship of sport and the arts.

For more information on how VicHealth was funded visit our What we do page.


The impact on smoking has been dramatic.

Sponsorship has gone from sports and arts events; tobacco advertising cannot be found in media or sporting fields, most workplaces and public spaces are smokefree, the legal age to purchase tobacco has increased to 18 years, the number of adult smokers has almost halved, and branding has been removed from tobacco product.

Read more about tobacco prevention here.


The impacts go beyond just Victoria.

The fact that it was such a good idea is emphasised by the continuing work of VicHealth and by the establishment of health promotion foundations in other Australian states, as well as countries such as Thailand, Switzerland, Austria, the Philippines and Malaysia.

But we could go further. Head to our page How to create a wellbeing economy for more about the potential that health promotion has to better our future.

Our recent history

Between 2013–2023, VicHealth focused on five strategic imperatives:

  1. Promote healthy eating
  2. Encourage regular physical activity
  3. Prevent tobacco use
  4. Prevent harm from alcohol
  5. Improve mental wellbeing.

The strategic imperatives supported our ambition for one million more Victorians to have better health and wellbeing by 2023. They helped focus our work on areas of need and where we could achieve the greatest impact.


VicHealth celebrates 30 years

Our inaugural leaders at VicHealth’s inception take us on a journey back to 1987 and inspire us on our and our partners’ continuing role to promote health.


Check out our 30 years of VicHealth publication for an overview of VicHealth from its inception in 1987 to the present day:

Read more

Innovation highlights over the years

Artwork by Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022
VicHealth acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land. We pay our respects to all Elders past, present and future.
This website may contain images, names and voices of deceased people.

VicHealth acknowledges the support of the Victorian Government.

Artwork Credit: Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022, acrylic on canvas. Learn more about this artwork.