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Tobacco regulations

All establishments that sell tobacco and nicotine products must follow city and state regulations.

Workplace smoking regulation

Smoking and the use of e-cigarettes is prohibited in the workplace

The Clean Air Works Workplace Smoking Regulation creates the following protections in Boston workplaces:

  • Smoking any substance, including vaping, is not permitted in any workspace. This includes any enclosed indoor and adjacent outdoor area, structure, or facility occupied by an employee during the course of their employment. Examples of outdoor workspaces include: restaurant and hotel patios, loading docks, valet parking areas, and unenclosed construction sites
  • Employers must post no-smoking signs in a clear and visible manner stating that smoking/vaping is prohibited
  • Smoking bars, including hookah bars that were in operation when the regulations amended in 2008 may allow smoking under a time-limited grandfather provision. These businesses must have signage addressing the dangers of smoking and second-hand smoke. They must prohibit the entry of persons under the age of 21. There are no new smoking bars allowed

Read the full text of the Clean Air Works Workplace Smoking Regulation.

Youth access regulation

Regulation Limiting Tobacco and Nicotine Access by Youth

Read the Regulation 

Read the Guidelines 

​If you have any questions or need language translation assistance, please contact the Boston Tobacco Prevention and Control Program.

 

The Youth Access Regulation dictate tobacco and nicotine delivery product sales in Boston:

  • Requires retailers to obtain a tobacco/nicotine sales permit prior to selling tobacco products
  • Prohibits the sale of tobacco and nicotine products, including e-cigarettes, to persons under the age of 21
  • Prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products and nicotine delivery products (including menthol)
  • Prohibit the sale of single cigarettes
  • Prohibits the sale of tobacco and nicotine delivery products through easy to reach self-service displays
  • Establishes restrictions on cigar pricing and packaging
  • Prohibits the sale of tobacco and nicotine delivery products in educational institutions. It is also prohibited in health care institutions including pharmacies
  • Prohibits the sale of blunt wraps
  • Amendments to the Massachusetts Law establish additional restrictions on the sale of flavored tobacco and nicotine delivery products. BPHC is required to enforce the provisions of the State Law. Information about the Massachusetts Law is available online.

How to obtain or renew a tobacco sales permit

Sales Permit Details

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

How do new owners obtain a City of Boston Tobacco/Nicotine Sales Permit?
If you are a new owner and planning to sell tobacco/nicotine products in the City of Boston, please see our Obtaining a Tobacco Sales Permit page. New permit applications should be dropped off at to expedite processing. If you are unable to drop the application off, you may mail it to us.  

Our mailing address is:
Boston Tobacco Prevention and Control Program
1010 Massachusetts Ave. 2nd Floor
Boston, MA 02118 

How do existing owners renew their City of Boston Tobacco/Nicotine Sales Permit?
All tobacco sales permits expire yearly on December 31st. It is the retailer’s responsibility to ensure that the tobacco sales permit is current. Renew your permit by following the steps on the Obtaining a Tobacco Sales Permit page. Permit renewals can be mailed to or droppped of in-person at the Boston Tobacco Prevention and Control Program

Where is the Boston Tobacco Prevention and Control Program located?
The Boston Tobacco Prevention and Control Program is located at:
1010 Massachusetts Ave. 2nd Floor
Boston, MA 02118  
You can reach the program at tobaccocontrol@bphc.org or 617-534-4718. 

What is the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) Retailer License?
Before applying for a City of Boston Tobacco/Nicotine Sales Permit, retailers must obtain a state license from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. There are three types of DOR licenses that are available based on what a retailer sells or plans to sell. Retailers must submit copies of the DOR license(s) with the application for the City of Boston Permit for Location and Sales of Tobacco Products.

  • Retailer License for Sale of Cigarettes
  • Retailer License for Sale of Cigars and Smoking Tobacco
  • Retailer License for Sale of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems
     

How can I contact the Massachusetts Department of Revenue?
You can reach the Massachusetts Department of Revenue at 617-887-5090.

I only sell nicotine delivery/vape products; do I need a permit?
Yes, you need a Tobacco/Nicotine Sales Permit if you only sell nicotine delivery/vape products. You must first obtain the Massachusetts Department of Revenue Retailers License for Sale of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems and then apply for the City of Boston Permit for Location and Sales of Tobacco Products.

How can I replace my required Tobacco signs?
Contact the Tobacco Prevention and Control Program at tobaccocontrol@bphc.org or 617-534-4718 and we will mail them to you. 

What is a flavored tobacco product?
Flavored tobacco products are tobacco products with a distinguishable taste or aroma, other than the taste or aroma of tobacco. Flavored tobacco products include those with tastes or aromas relating to:

  • Mint
  • Menthol
  • Wintergreen
  • Fruit
  • Chocolate
  • Vanilla
  • Honey
  • Candy
  • Cocoa
  • Dessert
  • Alcoholic beverage
  • Herb or spice

Flavored tobacco products may only be sold at Smoking Bars for on-site consumption.

What is a tobacco product flavor enhancer?  
A tobacco product flavor enhancer is any product designed, manufactured, produced, marketed or sold to produce a characterizing flavor when added to any tobacco product.

As a retailer or an adult only retailer tobacco shop, can I sell tobacco product flavor enhancers?
No, tobacco product flavor enhancers can only be sold at Smoking Bars for on-site consumption.

As a retailer or an adult only retail tobacco store, can I sell flavored vape juice that contains 0% nicotine?
No, flavored vape juice, regardless of the nicotine content, may only be sold at Smoking Bars for on-site consumption. 

Can flavored tobacco products be sold at tobacco retailers in Boston?
Flavored tobacco may ONLY be sold at Smoking Bars for on-site consumption ONLY. 

How can my store become an Adult-Only Retail Tobacco Store?
Smoking and vaping is prohibited at Adult Only Retail Tobacco Stores which were permitted as an Adult Only Retail Tobacco Store after November 2008.

Retailers seeking to be designated as an Adult-Only Retail Tobacco Store, for the purpose of selling nicotine delivery/vape products with a nicotine content greater than 35 milligrams/milliliter, must submit a letter of intent to the Tobacco Prevention and Control Program. The letter of intent should include information demonstrating that:

  • The sale of any items other than tobacco products, nicotine delivery products and related paraphernalia is prohibited
  • Individuals under the age of 21 are prohibited from entering the establishment
  • All employees must be 21 years or older to work in adult only retailer tobacco stores
  • All entrants MUST have their ID’s examined immediately upon entry of the store
  • The establishment may not possess a food, liquor, or restaurant license
  • The establishment must be a stand-alone business and will not share space with another business

Adult-Only Retail Tobacco Stores are prohibited from selling flavored tobacco, flavored nicotine delivery products, flavored tobacco enhancers and flavored nicotine delivery enhancers including, but not limited to:

  • flavored cigarettes
  • flavored cigars
  • flavored chewing tobacco
  • flavored rolling papers
  • flavored rolling and pipe tobacco
  • flavored snuff
  • flavored E-cigarettes
  • flavored E-hookah
  • flavored E-liquid 
  • flavored E-cigars
  • flavored E-pipes

What are the Boston Tobacco Prevention and Control Program’s minimum cigar package pricing requirements?
According to the Boston Public Health Commission’s recently amended Youth Access Regulation Guidelines (July 10, 2020):
-A single cigar must retail at two dollars and ninety cents ($2.90) or more.
 -A package of two or more cigars must retail at five dollars and eighty cents ($5.80) or more.

Can cigars with “special promotional offerings” (eg. buy 1 get 1 free) be excluded from the cigar packaging pricing requirement?
No, all retailers and adult-only retail tobacco stores must comply with the pricing requirements.

What is the penalty for a violation of the Clean Air Works Workplace Regulation?
Violations of the Clean Air Works Workplace Regulation includes:

  • smoking in the workplace
  • use of e-cigarettes/vape in the workplace
  • migration of smoke into the workplace
  • failure to post required No Smoking sign 

Citations for a violation of the Clean Air Works Workplace Regulation incur the following penalties:

  • 1st violation within 24 months: $200 
  • 2nd violation within 24 months: $700 
  • 3rd and subsequent violation within 24 months: $1000

What is the penalty for a violation of the Youth Access Regulation? 
Violations of the Youth Access Regulation includes (but is not limited to) the sale of blunt wraps, incorrect cigar pricing, the sale of a tobacco product at an educational and health care institution and Adult-Only Retail Tobacco Store failure to meet 100% requirements. Citations for a violation of the Youth Access Regulation incur the following penalties:

  • 1st violation within 24 months: $200
  • 2nd violation within 24 months: $400 and a 7 day suspension of the Permit for Location and Sales of Tobacco Products
  • 3rd violation within 24 months: $600 and a 30 day suspension of the Permit for Location and Sales of Tobacco Products
  • 4th violation within 24 months: $800 and a 60 day suspension of the Permit for Location and Sales of Tobacco Products
  • 5th and subsequent violation: Tobacco Control may permanently revoke a Permit for Location and Sales of Tobacco Products. If a Permit for Location and Sales of Tobacco Products is not revoked, a retailer may be subject to subsequent repeat fines and suspensions of the Permit for Location and Sales of Tobacco Products, unless a higher fine is set forth in state law or regulation

Penalties under the Massachusetts Law or regulation at 105 CMR 665.000 may be enforced by the Boston Tobacco Prevention and Control Program. Violations of the Massachusetts Law include underage sales, failure to post required signage, selling tobacco/nicotine products without a permit, self-service display of tobacco/nicotine products, sale of single cigarettes, sale of flavored tobacco/nicotine products. Sale of highly concentrated vape and advertising restricted tobacco prodcuts.

  • 1st violation within 36 months: $1000
  • 2nd violation within 36 months: $2000 and a tobacco permit suspension of 7 days
  • 3rd violation within 36 months: $5000 and a tobacco permit suspension of 30 days

The Boston Tobacco Prevention and Control Program may revoke a permit upon the fifth and subsequent violation, or for repeated violations of this regulation. 
​​​​
If you have any questions or need language translation assistance, please contact the Boston Tobacco Prevention and Control Program at tobaccocontrol@bphc.org or 617-534-4718​

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