Tobacco Regulations FAQ

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What is the state law regarding smoking in front of public buildings?

The state law prohibits smoking within 20 feet of main entrances, exits, and operable windows of any building owned, leased and occupied by the state, county, or city and buildings of the University of California, California State University, and California community colleges.

Does the state law (no smoking in front of public buildings) also apply to private businesses/office buildings/stores, etc.?

Although the state law does not apply to private businesses, management companies that own and/or manage private businesses have the right to institute policies that prohibit smoking at their facilities. They can also determine the distance at which smoking is banned from entryways, windows, and ventilation systems.


Are there laws that prohibit people from smoking inside apartments and condos?

California state law prohibits smoking in most indoor common areas of apartments and condominium complexes. Individual cities can ban smoking in outdoor common areas and the interior of apartments and condos. Currently, only two cities have put in place two restrictions. El Cajon prohibits smoking in outdoor common areas. Chula Vista prohibits smoking in affordable housing complexes (though landlords may designate smoking areas). State law also explicitly allows landlords and condominium homeowner associations to ban smoking on their properties. Many do, to both protect their tenants from dangerous secondhand smoke and also their units, which can require expensive clean up after someone who smokes leaves.


Is smoking banned in all parks and beaches?

Smoking and vaping is prohibited on State beaches and parks. Locally, all coastal cities prohibit smoking at parks and beaches, though Carlsbad and the City of San Diego may have designated smoking areas, which would be well marked. 


What is a tobacco retail licensing program?

A local tobacco retail licensing (TRL) program requires all merchants who sell tobacco to purchase a new license. The license is in addition to the existing California Cigarette and Tobacco Products Retailer’s License that is required in order to sell tobacco in the State of California. The jurisdictions in San Diego region that have a TRL ordinance are Chula Vista, El Cajon, Escondido, Lemon Grove, Oceanside, San Diego, San Marcos, Solana Beach, Vista and the unincorporated area of the County. The fees collected from the license are mainly used for enforcing the laws that forbid the sale and distribution of tobacco products to minors.

What San Diego County college campuses have smoke-free policies?

Colleges with a smoke-free campus policy are Mira Costa College, Palomar College, Point Loma Nazarene University, San Diego City College, San Diego Mesa College, San Diego State University, Southwestern College, and the University of California, San Diego.

Is smoking on outdoor dining patios prohibited in San Diego County?

Smoking on outdoor dining patios at restaurants is prohibited in the unincorporated area of San Diego County. The cities of Carlsbad, Chula Vista, Coronado, Del Mar, El Cajon, Encinitas, Imperial Beach, La Mesa, National City, Oceanside, San Diego (City) and Solana Beach also prohibit smoking on outdoor dining patios, though several cities allow designated smoking areas or made exemptions for specific restaurants that were in existence when the ordinance was passed. State law grants restaurant owners the right to prohibit smoking even if it is legal in their jurisdiction. 


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Webpage last updated 4/29/2021.