What You Need to Know About the Laws on Smoking Cigarettes (and Vaping) in California

Smoking in parkDo smoking laws also apply to vaping or e-cigarettes? 

In general, vaping and e-cigarettes are now regulated the same as regular cigarettes in California.1Business & Profession Code Sec 22950.5;  Cal. Rev. & Tax. Code § 30121(b) and Cal. Health & Safety Code § 104495(8)(A)

What about other tobacco products?

The laws about tobacco products apply to any nicotine delivery device or “any product containing, made, or derived from tobacco or nicotine that is intended for human consumption [including] an electronic device that delivers nicotine or other vaporized liquids to the person inhaling from the device, including, but not limited to, an electronic cigarette, cigar, pipe, or hookah…”2Business & Profession Code Sec 22950.5; and Cal. Health & Safety Code § 104495(8)(A) This includes e-cigarettes, vape juice, vape pen, vaporizer, cigarillo, menthols, chewing tobacco, etc.

What is the minimum age to buy cigarettes or other tobacco products?

In California, you generally must be at least 21 years old to buy any tobacco products (see above).3Business & Professions Code Sections 22950-22964 There is an exception for active duty military personnel, who can purchase tobacco products if they are 18 or older.4Business & Professions Code Section 22958

Do any cities ban the sale of cigarettes or other tobacco products?

Yes, certain products are or will be banned in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles County unincorporated areas, and San Francisco.

Where is it illegal to smoke or vape in California?

Throughout California, you can’t smoke or vape:

  • Inside any bar, restaurant or other enclosed workplace5CA Labor Code Sec 6404.5
  • In any state park or state beach (as of Jan 1, 2020). Does not apply to paved roadways or parking facilities. Exception is made for any tobacco or plant use for genuine religious purposes.6Section 5008.91 of the Public Resources Code
  • Inside or within 20 feet of any public building, which includes any building owned or occupied by state or local government, such as a public school, college, or other educational institution7CA Govt Code Sec 7597; Sec 7596(a): “Public building” means a building owned and occupied, or leased and occupied, by the state, a county, a city, a city and county, or a California community college district.
  • In a car when anyone younger than 18 years old is inside (aka child, minor, etc)8CA Health & Safety Code Sec 118948
  • Near a playground or sandbox play area9California Health and Safety Code, Section 104495
  • Within 250 feet of a youth sports event, including a practice, game, or any related activity10Section 104495 of the Health and Safety Code
  • In day care facilities11California Health and Safety Code 1596.70-1596.799
  • Foster homes or group homes12Cal. Health & Safety Code § 1530.7
  • health facilities, including hospitals13Cal Health & Safety Code Sec 1234; Cal. Health & Safety Code § 1286
  • non profit temporary food facilities14Health & Safety Code 114332
  • within 25 feet of a farmers market15Cal. Health & Safety Code § 114371(f)
  • On any form of public transportation, such as a bus, train, subway, airplane etc.16California Healthy & Safety Code Sec 118925; Cal. Pub. Util. Code §561 (a) 
  • On a residential property or dwelling unit, including a house or apartment building, where the landlord prohibits it.17Cal. Civ. Code §1947.5 (2018)

Many cities also ban smoking and vaping in other locations. See our Guide to Smoking Laws in the Los Angeles area and the San Francisco area.

What about smoking or vaping cannabis?

Marijuana, aka “pot” is illegal to consume or smoke in any way in any public place throughout the state of California, except for certain pot shops in some cities. For more, see our Guide to Marijuana Laws in California.


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