Background Exposure to tobacco advertising and promotion increases the likelihood of smoking amongst young people. While there is a universal ban on traditional or ?above-the-line? advertising in Australia, the types and extent of exposure of young people to ?below-the-line? tobacco advertising and promotion is largely unknown. In this study we aim to identify levels of exposure of New South Wales (NSW) adolescents and young adults to tobacco promotion at the point-of-sale (PoS), on the internet, in entertainment media and at venues such as events or festivals and pubs, clubs, nightclubs, or bars; and to identify those most at risk of exposure. Methods A telephone survey of 1000 NSW adolescents and young adults aged 12 to 24 years was conducted. Self-reported exposure to tobacco promotions or advertising in the last month were measured in four areas: (1) promotions or advertising at (a) events or festivals and (b) pubs, clubs, nightclubs or bars, (2) on the internet, (3) people smoking cigarettes in (a) movies, (b) TV shows, (c) video games and (d) on the internet, and (4) displays of cigarette packs for sale at (a) large supermarkets, (b) grocery stores or small supermarkets, (c) convenience stores, and (d) service or petrol stations. Smoking status and susceptibility to smoking was also assessed. Results A substantial proportion of the young people surveyed reported seeing tobacco promotion sometimes or often in the last month over most of the channels studied. The highest levels of exposure were at the PoS (approx. two-thirds) and to people smoking cigarettes in movies (77%). Lower levels of exposure to tobacco promotions and imagery were reported on the internet (20%); at events or festivals (22.5%); in pubs, clubs, nightclubs or bars (31%); and in video games (23%). However, the odds of exposure through video games increased by 8% for every additional hour spent on the internet per day. Conclusions This study shows that adolescents and young adults in NSW are exposed to tobacco advertising or promotion at the PoS, on the internet, in entertainment media and at venues such as events or festivals and pubs, clubs, nightclubs or bars, despite the restrictions on the marketing of tobacco in Australia.