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Tougher City Tobacco Laws Take Effect June 1

June 1, 2015


View summary of 2015 tobacco ordinance amendments

View full text of Cambridge Tobacco Ordinance 
View list of parks and plazas by smoking status

CAMBRIDGE – Earlier this year, the Cambridge City Council enacted the most comprehensive changes to the city’s tobacco laws since 2003, when smoking in restaurants and bars was prohibited. The new changes take effect June 1, 2015.

“Raising the tobacco purchase age to 21 and prohibiting the sale of candy and fruit flavored cigarettes and cigars are a direct response to the tobacco industry’s aggressive marketing of cheap, appealing products to kids,” said Claude Jacob, Chief Public Health Officer and director of the Cambridge Public Health Department. The health department leads the city’s Tobacco Advisory Committee, which proposed most of the ordinance amendments.

The amended ordinance will also prohibit smoking in smaller parks and tot lots in Cambridge. “Many of the city’s smaller parks are nestled in dense neighborhoods, raising the likelihood that smoke will affect kids using the parks and may also drift into abutting properties,” said City Manager Richard C. Rossi, who co-facilitates the Tobacco Advisory Committee. "The new tobacco laws help ensure that our children have healthy and smoke-free places to play.”

In addition, the amended ordinance will treat e-cigarettes as tobacco products. Electronic cigarettes, which may soon be regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, contain varying amounts of nicotine, a highly addictive and harmful chemical. There remain major concerns about the presence of heavy metals released by the devices themselves and the proper regulation of other chemicals found in the nicotine solutions used in these devices.

Effective June 1, the city of Cambridge prohibits:

  • The sale of tobacco products and e-cigarettes to anyone under 21.
  • Smoking in smaller parks (15,000 square feet or less) and tot lots, and at city-permitted events (e.g., league games, BBQs, fairs).
  • Use of e-cigarettes in settings where tobacco products are prohibited, such as restaurants, social clubs, and all indoor workplaces.
  • Smoking in restaurant or bar outdoor seating areas on city-owned property (e.g., sidewalks) where food is served.  Electronic cigarettes and hookahs are allowed in seating areas on private property, such as restaurant back patios.
  • Smoking in all rooms at inns, hotels, motels, and bed & breakfasts.
  • Publicly accessible “roll-your-own” machines and cigarette vending machines.
  • Sale of tobacco products and e-cigarettes (except prescriptions) in pharmacies and health care institutions.
  • Sale of flavored tobacco products (except menthol) in all retail establishments except tobacco shops.
  • Sale of blunt wraps.
  • Predatory pricing of cigars:  Single cigars must be sold for a minimum of $2.50; cigar 2-packs, for a minimum of $5.00; and cigar 3-packs, for a minimum $7.50.

Over the summer, signs will be posted in parks, playgrounds, and other open spaces as part of the city’s campaign to promote smoke-free recreation.

If you have any questions about the newly expanded tobacco ordinance, please contact Sam Lipson, Director of Environmental Health for the Cambridge Public Health Department, 617-665-3838 or slipson@challiance.org.


Suzy Feinberg, MPH
Public Information Officer

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Cambridge Public Health Department
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