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?

Currently, no laws in San Diego County prohibit smoking inside apartments and condominium complexes. However, many apartments and multi-unit complexes already have or are now putting a voluntary policy in place which prohibits smoking on balconies and patios that are attached to the living units, as well as inside the apartments. Landlords and property owners should know that smoke-free policies are not discriminatory; therefore, they can institute their own policies. They can require that the entire complex be smoke-free or can designate certain sections of the complex to be smoke-free. The City of El Cajon is leading the way and is currently the only jurisdiction in San Diego County that restricts smoking in common areas (inside and outside) of multi-unit housing complexes.

Is smoking banned in all parks and beaches?

Smoking is not permitted on San Diego County beaches. All parks, including state parks, are also smoke-free.

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 cities in San Diego County that have a TRL ordinance are Chula Vista, El Cajon, Lemon Grove, San Diego, San Marcos, Solana Beach, and Vista. 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, and Southwestern College.

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, and Solana Beach also prohibit smoking on outdoor dining patios. Restaurant owners in other areas of San Diego County can make their own voluntary policy to prohibit smoking in the outdoor dining area of their eating establishment.


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Webpage last updated 6/21/2020.