Tobacco Control Resource Program (TCRP) Smoking Laws

For more information phone 619-692-5514 or send us an email.

Several state and local laws protect the public from exposure to secondhand smoke.  This website includes information about several of them.  For a more detailed description of state laws, visit Smoke Free San Diego.

Since 1988, the California State Workplace Smoking Law (Labor Code Sec. 6404.5) banned smoking in all public working places. The code states, "No employee shall knowingly engage in the smoking of tobacco products in an enclosed space at a place of employment."

All 18 incorporated cities in San Diego County have adopted local ordinances as well. All unincorporated areas follow the County of San Diego smoking ordinances.


NEW: Changes to Tobacco-Related Regulations for Unincorporated San Diego County

On January 28, 2020, the County of San Diego Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance which will apply to the unincorporated area of San Diego County. The ordinance restrictions will be in place on  July 1, 2020, and include the following:

  • The sale or distribution of flavored smoking products is prohibited.
  • The sale or distribution of electronic smoking devices is prohibited until February 28, 2021, or an earlier date, dependent on the results of the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) ongoing vaping illness investigation.
  • Smoking is prohibited in all outdoor dining areas, and within 25 feet from the perimeter of such areas. Additionally, smoking is prohibited within 40 feet from a permitted food facility that is a mobile food or temporary food facility, such as a food truck or food cart.

For more information, contact us at 619-542-4178, or by email.


FAQ - Flavored Smoking Products and Electronic Smoking Devices

FAQ - Smoke-free Outdoor Dining

Full San Diego County Tobacco Ordinance

Letter to Tobacco Retailers

Letter to Food Facility Permit Holders (Restaurants)


Stay tuned for new resources and links that will be available soon on our website, including:

  • Online form to file complaints regarding ordinance violations
  • Free printable resources for your business or restaurant


Harmful Effects

Smoking laws and ordinances provide a healthy environment for everyone. Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, causing more than 400,000 deaths each year.

Secondhand smoke (environmental tobacco smoke) causes some 53,000 deaths in nonsmoking persons in the United States each year. Even if you don't smoke, your health can be harmed by someone smoking around you.

To make a complaint about smoking in the workplace, please contact the agency listed below in the jurisdiction where the violation occurred:



Carlsbad  Police Department
Chula Vista  Chula Vista Code Enforcement
 Coronado Coronado Police Department
Del Mar Code Enforcement
El Cajon El Cajon City Manager’s Office
Encinitas San Diego Sheriff’s Department Dispatch
Escondido Escondido Police Department
Imperial Beach Code Enforcement
La Mesa Code Enforcement
Lemon Grove San Diego Sheriff’s Department Dispatch
National City Code Enforcement
Oceanside Oceanside Police Department
Poway San Diego Sheriff’s Department Dispatch
San Diego (City) San Diego Police Department Dispatch
San Diego (County) San Diego Sheriff’s Department Dispatch
San Marcos San Diego Sheriff’s Dept
San Marcos Station Admin
Santee San Diego Sheriff’s Department Dispatch
Solana Beach San Diego Sheriff’s Department Dispatch
Vista San Diego Sheriff’s Department Dispatch

Tobacco Product Litter

Cigarette butts are the most littered items both in the United States and in the world. They are flicked into the streets from cars, found on beaches, parks and sidewalks, and then end up in drains which flow to streams, rivers, bays, lagoons and ultimately end up in the ocean. Electronic cigarettes also produce litter and hazardous and toxic waste produced by discarded devices, batteries, and pods. 

Tobacco FAQ

  • 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 (UC), California State University (CSU), 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 now smoke-free.

  • What is Tobacco Retail Licensing?

A local Tobacco Retail Licensing (TRL) Ordinance requires all merchants who sell tobacco to purchase a new license. The license is in addition to the existing State of California tobacco retail 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 include: MiraCosta College, Palomar College, Point Loma Nazarene College, 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 uincorporated 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 the county can make their own voluntary policy to prohibit smoking in the outdoor dining area of their eating establishment.

For more information phone 619-692-5514 or send us an email.


Website last updated 4/16/20.