Smoke-free Palo Alto Ordinance

Tobacco use is the number one preventable cause of death and disease in California, killing nearly 40,000 Californians every year. The 2012 Surgeon General's Report found that about 90 percent of all smokers first tried cigarettes as teens, and that about three of every four teen smokers continue into adulthood. Young adults, ages 18 to 24, have the highest smoking prevalence among any age group according to the California Department of Public Health. In addition, a survey of Palo Alto multi-unit residents in 2015 indicated that 80% of multi-unit residents are bothered by smoking, and 90% favored smoking restrictions in multi-unit housing. 

 Palo Alto City Council has adopted two ordinances that set requirements for tobacco use and sale:

  1. Municipal Code 4.64 - Permits for Retailers of Tobacco Products regulates where tobacco products can be sold, and 
  2. Municipal Code 9.14 - Smoking and Tobacco Regulations regulates where tobacco products may be used

Ordinance Summary

Restrictions on where tobacco products may be sold

On June 16, 2020 Council directed staff to adopt a Tobacco Retail Permit Ordinance that mirrors that of the Santa Clara County Department of Health. This ordinance prohibits the sale of all electronic cigarette and flavored tobacco products at all Palo Alto retailers. The Palo Alto Tobacco Retail Permit Ordinance became effective on September 3, 2020. The ordinance is administered and monitored by Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health and Santa Clara County Public Health Department.

For questions about the Tobacco Retail Ordinance, or to file a complaint regarding illegal sale of prohibited items, go to Submit a Complaint - Department of Environmental Health - County of Santa Clara (, email, or call 408-918-3400.

Free "No Smoking" metal signs and window decals are available to business owners.
Visit the "Order Free No Smoking Signs" section for more information.

Restrictions on where tobacco products may be used

Smoking outreach.PNG


Smoking is prohibited in public spaces including indoor and outdoor dining areas, entryways, public events, recreation areas, service areas, commercial areas; outdoor service areas such as bus stops, ATMs, and ticket lines, places of employment, construction worksites, all City of Palo Alto facilities, parks, golf course and open space, and 25 feet from any doorway, window, opening, crack, or vent into an enclosed area. Exceptions to the current ban may be allowed if a shopping center or commercial areas establishes a designated smoking area that is at least 25 feet away from any openings and includes receptacles to control litter.

Smoking is also restricted at all multi-unit residences and common areas to reduce public exposure to secondhand smoke. The ordinance prohibits the use of cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, hookahs, pipes, electronic smoking devices, and any plant product intended for human inhalation including medical or recreational marijuana. Landlords and sellers of condominium units are required to give written notice to tenants and buyers about the smoking ban and to include smoking prohibitions as part of the terms of their lease and rental agreements.

Resources for multi-family property managers, owners and residents:

Free “No Smoking” signs and window decals are available to property owners/managers. 
Visit the "Order Free No Smoking Signs" section for more information.

Order Free "No Smoking" Signs

The City of Palo Alto provides free "no smoking" signs to both businesses and multi-unit property owners. Please view the tables below for business and multi-unit property sign options. Once your choices are made, provide the following information:

  1. Full name of requestee
  2. Phone number
  3. Email address
  4. Delivery address for the signs
  5. Which signage option would you like (Business sign options: A or B. Multi-unit property owner sign options: #1#2#3, or #4) ?
  6. Provide the quantity you would like of each sign and window decal.
  7. Where will these signs be located? (name of business or multi-unit property)
  8. Address of business or multi-unit property

Order free signs!

Smoking Ordinance Business Sign Options:
Sign Option # Message Type Dimensions

"No Smoking. No E-cigarettes.

This is a smokefree property. Palo Alto Municipal Code 9.14."

Metal 9" x 12"
B (Same Message as Option A)
Window Decal 4" x 6"


Sign Option# Message Type Dimensions

"All units and common areas of this complex are Smoke Free.

Thank you for not smoking or using e-cigarettes.

Palo Alto Municipal Code 9.14

For more information, contact your building or property Manager, or visit"

Metal 8" x 12"
2 (Same message as Option #1) Window Decal 4" x 6"

"No Smoking, No E-Cigarettes.

For help quitting call 1-800-NO-BUTTS"*

*Note: this phone number is for the California Smokers' Helpline which provides free telephone counseling, self-help materials, and online help in six languages to help smokers quit.

Metal 11.5" x 8"
4 (Same Message as Option #3) Window Decal 4" x 6"


Additional Resources