Tobacco Control Program

Tobacco Use in SLO County

Despite years of decline in tobacco use throughout the County, tobacco use continues to negatively impact many of our residents. In fact, the County as a whole, has a higher rate of tobacco use than the rest of the state. However, large differences in tobacco use persist by race/ethnicity and among population groups by socioeconomic status, educational attainment, occupation, mental health status, sexual orientation, and geography. These high-risk groups suffer disproportionately from tobacco-related illnesses. For current adult and youth tobacco use rates in SLO County, visit SLO Health Counts

Tobacco includes products such as: cigarettes, cigars, little cigars, chewing tobacco, pipe tobacco, snuff and any electronic device that delivers nicotine or other vaporized liquids to the person inhaling from the device, including, but not limited to, an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette, vape), cigar, pipe, or hookah. E-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product by youth. According to the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey, over 27% of high school students and over 10% of middle school students were using e-cigarettes. 

Tobacco Control Program Priorities

1. Reduce Exposure to Secondhand Smoke by Supporting Smoke-Free Environments

Secondhand smoke exposure is proven to be harmful at any level. California used to have some of the strongest laws in the nation to protect people from harmful secondhand smoke exposure. However, these state laws mostly focus on workplaces and other indoor areas. California's state-wide smoking restrictions can be found here.

Cities and counties have the explicit authority to go beyond state law and enact secondhand smoke restrictions in outdoor areas.

The following cities in San Luis Obispo County have adopted comprehensive smoke-free outdoor air policies, prohibiting the use of tobacco and marijuana products in all public outdoor areas:

  • Atascadero
  • Morro Bay
  • Paso Robles
  • Pismo Beach
  • San Luis Obispo (City)

2. Reduce Youth Access to Tobacco

An important aspect of reducing the smoking prevalence in our county it to reduce the availability and sales of tobacco products to minors under the age of 21.

Local tobacco retail licensing ordinances are the best means of reducing illegal tobacco sales to minors and addressing unique challenges faced by each community. Local fees help communities fund enforcement of minimum age-of-sale laws. Local level licensing laws can also help communities respond to emerging trends in the tobacco retail environment, such as the rising popularity of e-cigarettes.

A complete guide on tobacco control laws that affect retail businesses in California can be found here.

State and Local Tobacco Laws 

As of December 20, 2019, the Tobacco 21 law passed in Congress, raising the legal age to purchase tobacco (including e-cigarettes and vapes) from 18 years old to 21 years old across the United States. However, it is important to note that California has been a Tobacco 21 State since June, 2016. Additionally, the State of California includes electronic cigarettes in the definition of smoking and tobacco products.

State of California Retailer Laws:

All tobacco retailers in California must possess a tobacco retailer license issued by the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA). Each retailer must apply for a 12-month license and pay an annual license fee of $265 per retail location.

Local Retailer Laws (San Luis Obispo County):

The following jurisdictions have an additional local retail license:

  • Arroyo Grande
  • Grover Beach
  • San Luis Obispo (City)
  • San Luis Obispo County Unincorporated

3. Promote Quitting Tobacco 

Efforts in this area connect community members with available local resrouces to quit their tobacco addiction, and stay quit. Telephone counseling, self-help materials, and group counseling sessions available for residents of the county. More information on quit resources for community members can be found here.

Get Involved in Local Efforts

Join the SLO County Tobacco Control Coalition (TCC) to get involved in local efforts to prevent tobacco use.

TCC meets the 2nd Wednesday of every month, from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM at the County of San Luis Obispo Health Agency, Annex Aqua Room, 2180 Johnson Age, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401.

Sign up for our monthly newsletter to stay up to date on local, state, and federal tobacco issues.

For more information, visit TCC website.

Resources for Schools

Resources for Parents

Resources for the Community

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I contact the Tobacco Control Program?

Email us if you have any questions or would like more information [email protected] 

The Tobacco Control Program is located in the Annex building of the Health Agency:

2180 Johnson Ave, Annex

San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Can I vape inside?

NO. In the State of California vaping is not allowed inside. Anywhere you are unable to smoke conventional cigarettes you are not allowed to vape/ use e-cigarettes.

How do I dispose of my e-cigarette?

Visit call2recycle.org to find a list of locations near you that collect lithium-ion batteries.

Is vaping unhealthy?

Vaping (use of electronic cigarette/ JUUL, etc.) has been linked to over 2,000 illnesses nationwide and over 50 deaths. Vaping has only been available in the United States since 2005 and therefore there is no long term studies on the health effects of vaping. Due to the lack of FDA regulation health officials are not able to clearly state to what extent the chemicals in e-juices will cause harm.