About San Francisco Tobacco-Free Project

The San Francisco Tobacco-Free Project is a program within the Community Health Equity and Promotion Branch of the San Francisco Department of Public Health.  It is responsible for developing and implementing a comprehensive tobacco control plan for San Francisco. The program is funded with state monies which have been made available following passage of the 1988 Tobacco Tax Initiative, 2016 Tobacco Tax Increase as well as Master Settlement funds. The comprehensive tobacco control plan follows state guidelines and addresses the following three state mandated priorities:

  1. Reduce exposure to environmental tobacco smoke;

  2. Reduce youth access to tobacco; and

  3. Counter pro-tobacco influences.

The Tobacco-Free Project provides staff support and technical assistance to a local tobacco control coalition, the San Francisco Tobacco-Free Coalition, which has spearheaded numerous public policies addressing the three priority areas as well as policies addressing the global tobacco epidemic.  The San Francisco Tobacco-Free Coalition has successfully informed the adoption of several local tobacco ordinances that provide protection from exposure to second hand smoke; regulate the sale of tobacco by requiring tobacco retailers to obtain a tobacco permit as well as density caps for tobacco permits per supervisoral district, and increasing the minimum purchasing age to 21 years of age.

The San Francisco Department of Public Health provides funding to community based organizations with the goal of building their capacity to protect themselves from tobacco industry targeting and promotion.  These community based organizations serve diverse communities, and have made great strides in countering tobacco influences in their neighborhoods.  Some such actions include reducing availability, strengthening second hand smoke laws, and tobacco litter removal.

Timeline of Tobacco Control Policies in San Francisco [Download Timeline]
A brief chronology of legislation adopted in San Francisco from 1988–2018


  • Ban on the sale of flavored tobacco: SF Health Code was amended to add article 19Q prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco products. This includes menthol cigarettes, flavored cigarillos, smokeless tobacco, blunt wrappers, and e-cigarette liquids.


  • Increasing the Minimum Purchasing Age: SF Health Code Article 19H was amended to increase the minimum purchasing age of tobacco products from 18 to 21 years of age.  The focus of enforcement will be on the sale of tobacco products NOT the possession or use of tobacco products by young people.


  • Prohibiting the Use of Smokeless Tobacco at Ball Parks: SF Health Code Article 19O prohibits the usage of smokeless tobacco at all sport and playing fields in San Francisco
  • Tobacco Density Reduction: SF Health Code Article 19H was amended to include a density element.  There is now a cap of 45 tobacco retailers per supervisorial district.  No current tobacco permits will be taken away; however, no new permits will be issued in any district over the cap.


  • Prohibiting the Use of Electronic Cigarettes Wherever Smoking of Tobacco Products is Prohibited: SF Health Code Article 19N prohibits the use of electronic cigarettes in places where the use of traditional cigarettes is prohibited. Sale of electronic cigarettes requires a tobacco sales permit. Sales of electronic cigarettes are prohibited wherever tobacco sales are prohibited.


  • Disclosure to Current and Prospective Tenants of Smoking Designation of a Rental Unit and Location of Smoking Optional Units in Building: SF Health Code Article 19M requires property owners to designate rental units as either smoke free or smoking optional. The property owner is required to list the designation when advertising a vacancy. The property owner is also required to maintain a master list of all smoking optional units in a building.
  • Prohibited Smoking at Certain Outdoor Events: SF Health Code Article 19L prohibits smoking at outdoor events on property owned by the City except for Neighborhood Block Parties. The event producer is also required to notify the public that the event is smoke-free.


  • Expanded Protection from Second Hand Smoke: SF Health Code Article 19F was amended to include restrictions on smoking in outdoor dining areas, near building entryways, in waiting lines, farmers markets, 75% of hotel/motel guest rooms, owner operated bars, charity bingo, tobacco shops, and enclosed common areas of multi-unit housing complexes.
  • Expanded Ban on Tobacco Sales in Pharmacies: SF Health Code Article 19J was amended to include grocery and big box stores with pharmacies. These locations were no longer issued tobacco permits.


  • Cigarette Litter Abatement Fee: SF Administrative Code Chapter 105 and Chapter 10.100-70 established a $0.20 fee per pack of cigarettes sold in San Francisco to recover the cost of abating cigarette litter from City streets, sidewalks, and other public property.


  • Ban on Tobacco Sales on City & County Property: SF Health Code Article 19 K prohibits the sales of tobacco on City & County property with an exemption for San Francisco Airport.
  • Ban on Free Distribution of Tobacco Products at Bars and Nightclubs: SF Police Code, Article 1, Section 95 was amended to ban distribution of free tobacco products at bars and nightclubs.
  • Ban on Smoking in Taxi Cabs and Other Vehicles for Hire: SF Health Code, Article 19F, Sec. 1009.22 was amended to prohibit smoking in taxi cabs and vehicles for hire.
  • Tobacco-Free Pharmacies: SF Health Code Article 19J prohibits sale of tobacco products at pharmacies. Tobacco permits no longer issued to pharmacies in chain drug stores and independent pharmacies.


  • Smoke-free Public Transit Stops: SF Health Code Article 19F, Sec. 1009.22 was amended to prohibit smoking at public transit stops and shelters.
  • Smoke-free Public Golf Courses: SF Health Code Article 19I, Sec. 1009.81 was amended to expand smoking ban to public golf courses.


  • Smoke-free Parks: SF Health Code Article 19I prohibits smoking in City parks, squares, gardens, sports or playing fields.
  • Tobacco-free Park and Recreation Athletic Fields: The Recreation and Park Commission adopted a resolution to include a ban on the use of any tobacco product by youth or adult volunteers or members of the public participating in any Department of Recreation and Park permitted league.
  • Ban on Tobacco Companies Sponsoring Youth Sports Leagues Directly or Indirectly: The Recreation and Park Commission adopted a resolution to include this ban as a provision in any athletic field permits issued by the Recreation and Park Department.


  • Prohibition of Tobacco Advertising and Promotion: SF Police Code Article 10, Sec 674 prohibits any manner or any advertising or promotion of cigarettes or tobacco products on a billboard or advertising display sign in a publicly visible location in the City.


  • Requirement of Permit for Tobacco Sales: SF Health Code Article 19H requires that anyone who engages in or allows tobacco sales obtain a valid permit from the Department of Public Health.


  • Ban on Tobacco Promotional Items in San Francisco Schools: The Board of Education of the San Francisco Unified School District’s Dress Code prohibits the wearing and carrying of tobacco promotional items in schools.


  • Ban on Cigarette Vending Machines: SF Health Code Article 19D, Sec. 1009.1 prohibits cigarette vending machines including vending machines located in places where minors are not permitted by law such as bars.


  • Ban on Self-Service Display: SF Police Code Article 46, Sec 4600.3 prohibits the usage of self-service display of tobacco products except in places to which minors have no access. This means that tobacco products may not be openly displayed to the public (they must be in cabinets or racks inaccessible to the public or behind the counter). A self-service display is a rack, shelf or kiosk that holds tobacco products such as cigarettes or containers of chewing tobacco that the public has access to without a clerk’s help.


  • Smoke-free Workplaces Including Restaurants and Bars: CA Labor Code 6404.5 and SF Health Code Article 19F, Sec 1009.22 prohibits smoking in enclosed business establishments (workplaces, restaurants, public places and in some sports stadiums). Implementation of the smoke free bar provision began in 1998.


  • Prohibit Free Distribution of Tobacco Products: SF Police Code Article 1, Sec 95 prohibits the giving away free samples of tobacco products in public areas. This includes coupons or other materials that can be turned in for free tobacco products.

(Updated July 2018)