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Environmental Health Division
Environmental Health Division

Berkeley Tobacco Retail Buffer Zone

The Berkeley Tobacco Retail Buffer Zone ordinance is intended to protect the health of the community – in particular the youth – by decreasing the likelihood that youth will consume products that are being marketed to them by the tobacco companies. 

The Berkeley City Council adopted Ordinance No. 7,441-N.S., which 

  • Establishes a 600 foot buffer around K-12 schools in Berkeley as defined in Resolution No. 67,259-N.S., 
  • Prohibits the issuance of new tobacco retail licenses within the buffer zone, 
  • And effective January 1, 2017, prohibits the sale of flavored (including menthol) and electronic tobacco products within the buffer zone. 


    Tobacco 1       Tobacco 2


Buffer Zone Map

Please type in the address of your business to determine whether it lies within the 600 foot buffer zone. 

   Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What does the buffer zone prohibit? 

A: The tobacco retail buffer zone ordinance prohibits the sale of flavored (including menthol) tobacco products, ENDS,  and E-Liquids within 600 feet of K-12 public and private schools in Berkeley.  

Q: What are ENDS and E-Liquid? 

A: ENDS stands for Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems—also known as e-cigarettes, e-hookahs, vape pens, etc.  E-Liquid is liquid, gel or other substance which typically contains nicotine designed for use with an electronic nicotine delivery system, including e-juice and smoke juice.  

Q: What is a flavored tobacco product? 

A: A flavored tobacco product is defined as a product made of, or derived from, tobacco or nicotine, that includes a characterizing flavor.  Examples of a characterizing flavor include products having the taste or aroma of menthol, mint, wintergreen, chocolate, vanilla, honey, cocoa, any candy, any dessert, any alcoholic beverage, any fruit, any herb, and any spice. 

Q: Does the 600 foot buffer zone apply to public and private colleges/universities as well? 

A: No, the 600 foot buffer zone does not apply to any colleges or universities. It only applies to public and private schools, grades K-12 with enrollment of at least 25 students. 

Q: How will this impact youth exposure to tobacco products? 

A: The tobacco companies target their products to youth by selling products in a variety of flavors—such as candy corn and berry—that appeal specifically to youth. Eliminating the sale of flavored tobacco products and ENDS (which are also sold in a variety of flavors) will diminish the likelihood that youth consume these products.   

Q: What tobacco products are OK to sell within the buffer zone? 

A: For existing license holders, non-flavored conventional tobacco products—such as cigarettes—are allowed to be sold within the 600 foot buffer zone.  

Q: How many licensed tobacco retailers are impacted by the buffer zone? 

A: In Berkeley a total of 26 currently licensed tobacco retailers are being affected. 

Q: When will the Buffer Zone go into effect? 

A: Beginning in 2016, no new Tobacco Retail License will be issued within the 600 foot buffer zone of schools. For existing tobacco retail license holders, the buffer zone will go into effect January 1, 2017. 

Q: What happens if there is a change of ownership within the buffer zone? 

A: A tobacco retailer’s license is nontransferable and is valid only for the person and location of license issued.  A new owner of a business located within the buffer zone would not be eligible to obtain a tobacco retail license for that location. 

Q: Won’t this affect existing retailers financially? 

A: The City passed Ordinance 7441-N.S. in 2015, and built in over a year lead time for retailers to sell their inventory of flavored products, ENDS and E-Juice.    

Q: What is the penalty for selling tobacco products within the 600 foot buffer zone of schools and parks? 

A: Violation of the conditions placed on a license may result in suspension of a license for a minimum of 30 days.  Repeated violations may result in longer suspensions and license revocation.  Additionally, violation of Chapter 9.80 of the Berkeley Municipal Code is a public nuisance and a misdemeanor, and may also be subject to administrative citation or civil action.   

If you have any additional questions about tobacco prevention please contact the Tobacco Prevention Program.  

   Additional Information & Resources  

 QUIT Smoking Classes from the Tobacco Prevention Program  

 Department of Planning & Development – Business Permits 

 California Tobacco 21 Law Resource Page 


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