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

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?

Beverly Hills became the first city to ban the sale of most tobacco products, which will take effect in 2021. However, exceptions to the ban are that the 3 currently operating cigar lounges will be able to continue selling tobacco, and hotels will be allowed to sell tobacco through room service only.

In Los Angeles County unincorporated areas, flavored tobacco product sales are prohibited.5LACMC Section 11.35.070

San Francisco has banned the sale of all electronic cigarettes and vaping products.

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 workplace6CA 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.7Section 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 institution8CA 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)9CA Health & Safety Code Sec 118948
  • Near a playground or sandbox play area10California Health and Safety Code, Section 104495
  • Within 250 feet of a youth sports event, including a practice, game, or any related activity11Section 104495 of the Health and Safety Code
  • In day care facilities12California Health and Safety Code 1596.70-1596.799
  • Foster homes or group homes13Cal. Health & Safety Code § 1530.7
  • health facilities, including hospitals14Cal Health & Safety Code Sec 1234; Cal. Health & Safety Code § 1286
  • non profit temporary food facilities15Health & Safety Code 114332
  • within 25 feet of a farmers market16Cal. Health & Safety Code § 114371(f)
  • On any form of public transportation, such as a bus, train, subway, airplane etc.17California 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.18Cal. Civ. Code §1947.5 (2018)

Many cities also ban smoking and vaping in other locations.

Where is it legal or illegal to smoke or vape in the city of Los Angeles?

In the city of LA, smoking and vaping (e-cigarettes are regulated just like regular cigarettes) is prohibited (in addition to the statewide rules above):

  • within 10 feet of outdoor dining areas and 40 feet of food kiosks, food carts and mobile food trucks.19LAMC 41.50
  • at farmer’s markets20LAMC 41.50
  • on an elevator21LAMC 41.51
  • on a bus, train, subway or other public transportation22LAMC 41.52
  • at any park23LAMC 63.44 B 24

Using e-cigarettes is specifically allowed in vape shops.24LAMC 41.50

What about other areas? 

Smoking or vaping is banned on any LA Metro public transportation, including buses, trains, subways, etc. You also can’t smoke or vape on a Metro facility or within 20 feet of any entrance, exit, or window of such a facility.25Metro Customer Code of Conduct 6-05-110

Smoking is banned in all L.A. County parks26LA County Municipal Code Sec 17.04.645 and beaches and beach parking lots,27LA County Municipal Code Sec. 17.12.365 including the beaches of Malibu, Santa Monica, Venice, and Marina del Rey.

Within Los Angeles County unincorporated areas, smoking or vaping ANY substance is illegal in:28LA County Municipal Code Sec. 11.64.030

  • elevators
  • buses and bus stops
  • museums and libraries
  • any indoor OR outdoor area of a health facility including a hospital, except for designated smoking areas
  • theaters
  • within 40 feet of a food truck
  • within 25 feet of an outdoor area of a restaurant or bar

In the city of Santa Monica, e-cigs are specifically prohibited:29LA Weekly article on SM e-cig ban

  • in outdoor dining areas
  • within 20 feet of any building open to the public
  • at bus stops

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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