1891 - Penal Code 308 (PC308)
PC308 is a law that has been part of the California Penal Code for over 100 years. This law makes it unlawful to sell, give or furnish tobacco products to anyone under 18. Each offense is subject to criminal action as a misdemeanor, or civil action punishable by a series of escalating fines. A minor who purchases, receives or possesses tobacco products may also be punished by a fine. In 1996, the law was amended to make it illegal to sell tobacco that is not in manufacturer packaging, such as single or hand-rolled cigarettes.
1988 - Proposition 99
Prop 99 was enacted in 1988 and provides a $.25 tax on each pack of cigarettes sold. These tax monies are collected by the state and disbursed to fund statewide tobacco control health education and research efforts through: local lead agencies, competitive grantees, and media campaigns. The competitive grantees include a number of statewide support agencies such as the California Smokers' Helpline, ChangeLab Solutions, Tobacco Education Clearing House of California (TECC), and the Center for Tobacco Policy and Organizing.
1992 - Synar Amendment
California adheres to the conditions of the federal Synar Amendment which links the receipt of federal block grants for substance abuse and mental health programs to states which adopt and enforce restrictions on the sale of tobacco to minors. Requirements of the Synar Amendment include enforcing laws prohibiting any manufacturer, retailer or distributer from selling or distributing tobacco products to minors. Additionally, in 1996 another regulation was added to the Synar Amendment from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that required each state to conduct annual random, unannounced inspections on a representative sample of tobacco retailers to assess illegal sales to minors. These compliance checks were to be performed and reported to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. However, in May 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the FDA did not possess the authority to regulate tobacco. As a result of this ruling, federal inspections of tobacco sales were halted. Practically speaking, what this means is that the state now has half the ability to conduct these on-site compliance checks.
1994 - Stop Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement Act (STAKE)
The STAKE Act was added to State Business and Professions code in 1994. This act prohibits the sale or provision of tobacco products to anyone under 18, which is punishable by a series of escalating fines to the business owner. The act requires: (1) the California Department of Health Services (CDHS) to enforce the laws prohibiting youth sales, (2) tobacco retailers to check the identification of anyone appearing to be under age, (3) tobacco retailers to post warning signs at potential points of sale that include a toll-free number (1-800-5ASK-4-ID) to report under age sales, and (4) tobacco wholesalers to provide CDHS with a list of all tobacco retailers that they supply. The law was amended in 1996 to prohibit tobacco vending machines from all businesses except those holding a valid on-site sale liquor license, and they were required to keep machines at least 15 feet from the business entrance. The law also required the CDHS, Food and Drug Branch to conduct on-site compliance checks.
1995 &1998 - The California Smoke-Free Workplace Laws AB13 & 3037
AB13, effective January 1, 1995, requires workplaces with five or more employees to be smoke-free. AB3037 went into effect on January 1, 1998 and requires bars, taverns, and nightclubs to be smoke-free. Enforcement of these laws is the responsibility of each of the local jurisdictions in the state.
1998 - California Children and Families Initiative (Prop 10)
Prop 10 was enacted in 1998 and adds sections to the California Health & Safety Code and Revenue & Taxation Code. It raised the cigarette tax by $.50 a pack to fund programs that aid young children and their families. Prop 10 requires each county's board of supervisors to: (1) create a Children & Families First Commission with high level representatives from essential areas such as: health, children's services, education, public health, behavioral health, social services and tobacco and other drug control and prevention; (2) establish bylaws, create and submit a strategic plan to the state level commission; (3) prepare and submit an annual audit and report to the state level commission; and (4) conduct at least one public hearing on the strategic plan and annual audit and report. In addition to providing possible opportunities for tobacco cessation and prevention services, the additional $.50 tobacco tax provided for through the proposition has a direct impact on sales.
2000 - LA City Tobacco Retailer Licensing Ordinance
On May 3, 2000, the Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance requiring all vendors of tobacco to possess a tobacco retailer's permit in order to sell tobacco, tobacco products and tobacco paraphernalia. Anyone who sells these products without obtaining and maintaining a valid Tobacco Retailer's Permit will be guilty of a misdemeanor and is subject to permit suspension for up to 12 months. This new law regulates tobacco sales much like alcohol sales, with escalating fines and possible revocation of licensing following multiple offenses. A similar law was also passed in the City of San Fernando in December 2001.
2001 - SB 757
This legislation expands the authority of the CDHS Tobacco Control Section (TCS) to conduct tobacco “sting” operations. Specifically, this law authorizes TCS to conduct inspections in response to complaints regarding sales to minors or at retail locations where previous violations have occurred, and to investigate illegal sales of tobacco products to minors by telephone, mail or the Internet.
The legislation also prohibits self-service cigarette displays (California Business & Professions Code Section 22962), restricts the distribution of free tobacco products (California Health & Safety Section 118950), and bans the sale of cigarettes in packs that contain fewer than 20 cigarettes (California Penal Code 308.3).
2001 - AB 188
AB 188 attempts to protect children from secondhand smoke by prohibiting the use of cigarettes, cigars or other tobacco-related products within a playground (any park or recreational area with play equipment), or within tot lots (any sandbox area within a public park). This law also prohibits the disposal of cigarette and cigar butts in these areas. Any person in violation of this law is punishable by a fine of $100.
2001 - SB 322
SB 322 was enacted in 2001 and adds a section to Penal Code 308. This law prohibits any person from selling, offering for sale, distributing, or importing bidis (beedeez) in any establishment admissible to minors. Bidis are clove or flavored cigarettes that are popular among young people. Any person in violation of this law is guilty of a misdemeanor or subject to civil action.
2002 - AB 1867
AB 1867 expands AB188 to prohibit smoking or disposal of tobacco products in a 25 foot periphery of child playground areas in all state parks. This law also increases the fine for smoking or disposing of tobacco products from $100 to $250.
2002 - AB 1830
AB 1830 prohibits the distribution or sale of tobacco products to minors via public or private postal services. Violators of this law are subject to civil penalties of $1,000-$2,000 for first violations, $2,500 -$3,500 for the second violation, $4,000-$5,000 for the third violation within a five-year period, $5,500-$6,500 for the fourth violation within a five-year period, and $10,000 for a fifth or subsequent violation within a five-year period.
2002 - AB 2205
AB 2205 adds an additional $100 penalty to the existing $100 penalty for each carton of cigarettes offered for sale without a tax stamp or meter, and makes violations a misdemeanor.
2002 - SB 1701
SB 1701 requires the Board of Equalization to replace cigarette tax stamps and meter impressions currently used with an impression that can be read by a scannable device.
2002 - SB 1766
SB 1766 requires cigarettes soled in California over the Internet, by phone, or mail order to pay California taxes. Violators of this law are subject to civil penalties of $1,000-$2,000 for first violations, $2,500 -$3,500 for the second violation, $4,000-$5,000 for the third violation within a five-year period, $5,500-$6,500 for the fourth violation within a five-year period, and $10,000 for a fifth or subsequent violation within a five-year period.
2002 - SB 1831
SB 1831 authorized the sale of the state’s portion of all future master settlement agreement funds to provide revenue to the state’s general fund.
2003 - AB 71
AB 71 sets up a new statewide program that requires retail stores, as well as tobacco wholesalers, distributors, manufacturers and importers to get a license. The primary purpose of the new licensing program is to reduce cigarette smuggling and the resulting loss of tobacco tax revenue to the state. AB 71 sets up a system for suspending or revoking a tobacco retailer's license if they are convicted a certain number of times for selling tobacco to minors. The bill has no public health component. This bill includes anti-preemption language that allows local government to adopt and enforce licensing programs with a public health emphasis.
2003 - SB 1016
Existing law places tax-related requirements on vendors who sell cigarettes to a person in California over the internet, on the phone, or via any other non-“face-to-face” sales method. This bill places an additional requirement on sellers: to comply with the federal Jenkins Act, which regulates taxes on the interstate sales of tobacco.
2003 - AB 1666
This bill changes the amount of security deposit required from a distributor who defers payments for cigarette tax stamps or meter register settings. The bill also contains guidelines for the timing of deferment and for the filing of reports.
2003 - AB 846
This bill prohibits smoking within 20 feet of main exits, entrances, or operable windows of public buildings and in passenger vehicles owned by the state. Public buildings include buildings owned or leased by any city, any county, the state, every campus of the California community colleges, the California State University , and the University of California . This bill includes anti-preemption language so that cities, counties, universities, and college campuses may adopt and enforce more restrictive smoking and tobacco control ordinances, regulations, or policies.
2004 - AB 384
This bill will prohibit the possession of tobacco products by inmates in state prisons and California Youth Authority (CYA) facilities. The law also prohibits the use of tobacco products by any person (staff, visitors, etc.) on the grounds of these facilities except in residential staff housing where inmates are not present. The legislation will go into effect July 1, 2005.
2004 - AB 3092
This bill will increase the fines under Penal Code 308 for failure to post a STAKE Act sign and impacts other provisions relating to illegal sales of tobacco products to minors. This legislation included an urgency clause and therefore the law goes into effect immediately. Fines have increased from $10 for the first violation and $50 for each subsequent violation to $50 for the first violation, $100 for the second violation, $250 for the third violation and $500 for the fourth and each subsequent violation.
2004 - SB 1173
This bill will prohibit the self-service display of non-cigarette products at retail outlets. The legislation will go into effect January 1, 2005 and will cover products such as cigars, pipe tobacco, smokeless as well as tobacco paraphernalia. SB 1173 builds upon previous legislation (SB 757) that banned self-service sales of cigarettes.
2005-2007 This section is currently under construction
While we update this section please click here for a copy of Tobacco Laws Affecting California 2007; a user-friendly guide, produced by the Technical Assistance Legal Center, of current laws regulating secondhand smoke exposure, the sale of tobacco products, tobacco advertising and sponsorship, and much more!