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Fact Sheet Fact Sheet

Tobacco use in California 2018

California cigarette use among adults and high school students

Cigarette use: California*

  • In 2016, 11 percent of adults smoked. Nationally, the rate was 17.1 percent.¹
  • In 2017, 5.4 percent of high school students smoked on at least one day in the past 30 days. Nationally, the rate was 8.8 percent.²

Other tobacco product use: California

  • In 2015, 1.4 percent of adults used e-cigarettes, 0.6 percent used smokeless tobacco and 1.7 percent smoked cigars.³
  • In 2017, 17.3 percent of high school students used e-cigarettes and 2.8 percent used smokeless tobacco on at least one day in the past 30 days. Nationally, the rates were 13.2 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively.²
California other tobacco product use among adults and high school students

Economics of tobacco use and tobacco control

  • California received $2.582 billion (estimated) in tobacco settlement payments and taxes in fiscal year 2018.
  • Of this, the state allocated $327.8 million in state funds to tobacco prevention in fiscal year 2018, 94.2 percent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual spending target.
  • Smoking-related health care costs: $13.29 billion per year
  • Smoking-related losses in productivity: $10.35 billion per year

California tobacco laws

Tobacco taxes

California 2018 tobacco taxes
  • California is ranked 9th in the U.S. for its cigarette tax of $2.87 per pack (enacted April 2017), compared with the national average of $1.73. (Connecticut and New York have the highest tax at $4.35 and Missouri has the lowest at 17 cents.)⁶ ⁷ ⁸
  • All other tobacco products are taxed at 28.95 percent of the manufacturer’s list price.⁶ ⁷

Clean indoor air ordinances

  • Smoking is prohibited in all government and private workplaces, public schools and childcare facilities.
  • Smoking restrictions are required in restaurants, bars, casinos/gaming establishments (tribal establishments are exempt), retail stores and recreational/cultural facilities.

Youth access laws

  • The minimum age of sale for tobacco products in California is 21. Active duty military personnel are exempt.⁶ ⁷
  • Establishments are required to post signs stating that sales to minors are prohibited.

Baseball stadium laws

  • The use of smokeless tobacco is prohibited in California’s five professional baseball stadiums.

Local tobacco laws

  • San Francisco prohibits the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol.
  • Berkeley prohibits the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol, within 600 feet of any school.¹⁰
  • Contra Costa County prohibits the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol, within 1,000 feet of a “youth-sensitive place,” including public and private schools, playgrounds, parks and libraries.¹¹
  • El Cerrito, Yolo County, Santa Clara and Oakland prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol.¹² ¹³ ¹⁴ ¹⁵
  • Hayward, Manhattan Beach, San Leandro and Sonoma prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products, excluding menthol, mint and wintergreen.¹⁶ ¹⁷ ¹⁸ ¹⁹
  • San Francisco and 13 other cities and counties have banned pharmacies from selling tobacco products.²⁰
  • Sonoma County requires retailers to sell cigarettes for a minimum of $7 per pack.¹⁹
  • San Francisco caps the number of tobacco sales permits in each of the city’s 11 districts at 45, and new tobacco retailers are prohibited within 500 feet of any school or another retailer.²¹

Quitting statistics and benefits

  • The CDC estimates 51.8 percent of daily adult smokers in California quit smoking for one or more days in 2016.²²
  • In 2014, the Affordable Care Act required that Medicaid programs cover all quit medications.**
  • California’s state quit line invests $3.06 per smoker, compared with the national average of $2.10.
  • California does not have a private insurance mandate provision for quitting tobacco.

Notes and references

Updated June 2018

*National and state-level prevalence numbers reflect the most recent data available. This may differ across state fact sheets.

**The seven recommended quitting medications are NRT gum, NRT patch, NRT nasal spray, NRT inhaler, NRT lozenge, Varenicline (Chantix) and Bupropion (Zyban). Fiore MC, et al. Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence: 2008 Update. Clinical Practice Guideline. Rockville, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services. Public Health Service: May 2008.

  1. CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2016.
  2. CDC, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, 2017.
  3. CDC, State-Specific Prevalence of Tobacco Product Use Among Adults - United States, 2014-2015, MMWR.
  4. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Broken Promises to Our Children: a State-by-State Look at the 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 19 Years Later FY2018, 2017.
  5. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Toll of Tobacco in the United States, 2018.
  6. American Lung Association, SLATI State Reports, 2017.
  7. American Lung Association, State of Tobacco Control, 2018.
  8. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, State Cigarette Excise Tax Rates & Rankings, 2018.
  9. San Francisco Department of Elections. June 5, 2018 Election Results. 2018;
  10. City of Berkeley. Ordinance No. 7,441-N.S.
  11. Contra Costa County. Adopt Ordinance No. 2017-01 Establishing Tobacco Sales Restrictions and a Cap on Tobacco Retail Licenses.
  12. City of El Cerrito. Tobacco Retailers License.
  13. Yolo County, Press Release, Protecting youth: Yolo Supervisors take steps to ban flavored tobacco, October 13, 2016.
  14. Santa Clara County. Media Release: Santa Clara County Leads the Nation in Restricting Menthols and Other Flavored Tobacco Products. October 19, 2016;
  15. City of Oakland California. Subject: Oakland Children - Smoking Prevention Ordinance From: Vice Mayor Campbell Washington And Council President Reid Recommendation: Adopt An Ordinance Amending Oakland Municipal Code Chapter 5.91 To: (1) Prohibit The Sale Of Flavored Tobacco Products; (2) Require The Posting Of The Full Retail Price Of Tobacco Products; (3) Prohibit The Redemption Of Tobacco Discounts And Coupons; And (4) Make Administrative Changes For The Licensure Of Tobacco Retailers.
  16. City of Hayward. Section 10-1.2780 Tobacco Retail Sales Establishments.
  17. City of Manhattan Beach. Tobacco Retail Ordinance. Ordinance No. 15-0020.
  18. City of San Leandro. An Ordinance Of The City Of San Leandro Adding Chapter 4.36 “Tobacco Retailers” To The San Leandro Municipal Code To Require The Licensure Of Tobacco Retailers And To Regulate The Sale Of Cigars, Cigarillos And Electronic Cigarettes.|Text|&Search=tobacco.
  19. Sonoma County Code of Ordinances. Chapter 32A: Licensure of Tobacco Retailers. 2016;
  20. Americans Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation. Municipalities with Tobacco-Free Pharmacy Laws. 2018;
  21. San Francisco Board of Supervisors. San Francisco Health Code Article 19H. 2014;
  22. CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, State Tobacco Activities Tracking and Evaluation System, 2016.