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Fact Sheet Fact Sheet

Tobacco use in California 2019

Cigarette use: California*

Cigarette use in California

  • In 2017, 11.3% of adults smoked. Nationally, the rate was 17.1%.1
  • In 2017, 5.4% of high school students in California smoked cigarettes on at least one day in the past 30 days. Nationally, the rate was 8.8%.2
Cigarette use in California graphic

Other tobacco product use: California

E-cigarette and smokeless tobacco use in California

  • In 2017, 3.0% of adults used e-cigarettes and 1.5% used smokeless tobacco.3
  • In 2017, 17.3% of high school students in California used electronic vapor products on at least one day in the past 30 days. Nationally, the rate was 13.2%.2
  • In 2017, 2.8% of high school students in California used chewing tobacco, snuff or dip on at least one day in the past 30 days. Nationally, the rate was 5.5%.2
Other tobacco product use in California graphic

Economics of tobacco use and tobacco control

Economics of tobacco use in California

  • California received $2.8083 billion (estimated) in revenue from tobacco settlement payments and taxes in fiscal year 2019.4
  • Of this, the state allocated $250.4 million in state funds to tobacco prevention in fiscal year 2019, 72% of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual spending target.4
  • Smoking-related health care costs: $13.29 billion per year.4
  • Smoking-related losses in productivity: $10.35 billion per year.5
Cigarette tax in California graphic

California tobacco laws

Cigarette tax in California

Tobacco taxes

  • California is ranked 10th in the U.S. for its cigarette tax of $2.87 per pack (enacted April 2017), compared with the national average of $1.79. (The District of Columbia has the highest tax at $4.50 and Missouri has the lowest at 17 cents.) 6-8
  • All other tobacco products are taxed at 65.08% of the wholesale price.6,7

Clean indoor air ordinances

  • Smoking is prohibited in all government and private workplaces, public schools, restaurants, bars, casinos/gaming establishments (tribal establishments exempt), retail stores, recreational/cultural facilities and childcare facilities.7
  • E-cigarettes are included in the state’s clean indoor air law.9

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.6

Local tobacco laws

  • San Francisco, along with Alameda, Albany, Beverly Hills, Corte Madera, Half Moon Bay, Marin County, Richmond, San Anselmo, San Mateo County, Santa Cruz, Sausalito and Yolo County prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes.10,11
  • Los Gatos, Oakland, Palo Alto and Santa Clara County prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, except in adult-only tobacco stores.11
  • Berkeley prohibits the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, within 600 feet of any school.12
  • Contra Costa County prohibits the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, within 1,000 feet of a “youth-sensitive place,” including public and private schools, playgrounds, parks and libraries.13
  • Cloverdale, El Cerrito, Fairfax, Hayward, Manhattan Beach, Novato, San Leandro, Saratoga, Sonoma, West Hollywood and Windsor all have varying restrictions on the sale of flavored tobacco products.11
  • San Francisco and 17 other cities and counties have banned pharmacies from selling tobacco products.14
  • Sonoma County requires retailers to sell cigarettes for a minimum of $7 per pack.15
  • 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.16

Quitting statistics and benefits

Quitting statistics in California

  • The CDC estimates 53% of daily adult smokers in California quit smoking for one or more days in 2017.3
  • In 2014, the Affordable Care Act required that Medicaid programs cover all quit medications.7**
  • California’s state quit line invests $3.14 per smoker, compared with the national average of $2.21.7
  • California does not have a private insurance mandate provision for quitting tobacco.7

Notes and references

Updated April 2019

*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, 2017.

2. CDC, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, 2017.

3. CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, State Tobacco Activities Tracking and Evaluation System, 2017.

4. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Broken Promises to Our Children: a State-by-State Look at the 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 20 Years Later FY2019, 2018.

5. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Toll of Tobacco in the United States.

6. American Lung Association, State Legislated Actions on Tobacco Issues (SLATI).

7. American Lung Association, State of Tobacco Control, 2019.

8. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. State Cigarette Excise Tax Rates & Rankings.  https://www.tobaccofreekids.org/assets/factsheets/0097.pdf.

9. Public Health Law Center. U.S. E-Cigarette Regulation: 50-State Review.  http://www.publichealthlawcenter.org/resources/us-e-cigarette-regulations-50-state-review.

10. San Francisco Department of Elections. June 5, 2018 Election Results. 2018; https://sfelections.sfgov.org/june-5-2018-election-results-summary.

11. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. States & Localities That Have Restricted the Sale of Flavored Tobacco Products.  https://www.tobaccofreekids.org/assets/factsheets/0398.pdf.

12. City of Berkeley. Ordinance No. 7,441-N.S. http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/Clerk/City_Council/2015/09_Sep/Documents/2015-09-29_Item_05_Ordinances_7441.aspx

13. Contra Costa County. Adopt Ordinance No. 2017-01 Establishing Tobacco Sales Restrictions and a Cap on Tobacco Retail Licenses.  http://64.166.146.245/agenda_publish.cfm?id=&mt=ALL&get_month=7&get_year=2017&dsp=agm&seq=30542&rev=0&min=956&ln=45036#ReturnTo45036.

14. Americans Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation. Municipalities with Tobacco-Free Pharmacy Laws.  http://no-smoke.org/pdf/pharmacies.pdf.

15. Sonoma County Code of Ordinances. Chapter 32A: Licensure of Tobacco Retailers. 2016; https://www.municode.com/library/ca/sonoma_county/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=CH32ALITORE.

16. San Francisco Board of Supervisors. San Francisco Health Code Article 19H. 2014; http://www.sfbos.org/ftp/uploadedfiles/bdsupvrs/ordinances14/o0259-14.pdf.