311 City Services
  • Online Services
  • For City services in many
  • languages, call
  • 311 or 510-981-2489

Translation Disclaimer

Quick Links


City Manager's Office
City Manager's Office
Press Contact: Marcia Brown-Machen, Public Health, (510) 981-5309

Retailers and bar and club owners warned against distributing free tobacco coupons and gifts

Berkeley, California (Friday, June 27, 2008) - For adults not in the "bar hopping" scene, it may come as a surprise that tobacco companies often market their products to young adults by sponsoring events in bars and clubs replete with freebies and coupons. 

This week, all Berkeley owners of tobacco retail store, bars, and entertainment venues will be made aware of a 2006 Berkeley ordinance that makes it illegal to distribute free tobacco coupons and gifts. Due to restrictions in tobacco advertising, tobacco companies have been marketing to young adults by giving free coupons and gifts in return for contact information that is gained by a swipe of a driver's license. 

"The tobacco companies are mailing out free car racing tickets, music CDs, and birthday gifts to my peers, and they make it seem like they are our best friend who knows exactly what we want. It's creepy that they know so much information just to gain brand loyalty," said Michelle Ly, a UC Berkeley student.

The law applies to all places open to the public, including bars and entertainment venues, and prohibits the free distribution of

  • tobacco samples,
  • tobacco and coupons supplied for a nominal charge, and
  • tobacco paraphernalia.

The tobacco companies use this information for direct-mail marketing and recipients may receive gifts by mail specifically tailored to their hobbies and interests for years afterwards. Recent research fund evidence that about 20-30 percent of all young adults were exposed to tobacco advertising and promotions in bars and clubs.

Project TOBAC (Tobacco Out of Berkeley And Cal), a collaborative project between the City of Berkeley Tobacco Prevention Program and the UC Berkeley University Health Services supported the ordinance, which adds a layer of protection from industry promotions.

For more information please contact: Marcia Brown-Machen at (510) 981-5309. For free quit-smoking groups, contact (510) 981-5330 or QuitNow@ci.berkeley.ca.us.


Keep up with City of Berkeley news via our News page, email or .

Home | Residents | Businesses | Visitors | Services | Elected Officials
Web Policy | Text-Only Site Map | Contact Us
City of Berkeley - Central Administrative Offices, 2180 Milvia St, Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 981-CITY/2489 or 311 from any landline in Berkeley
TTY: (510) 981-6903