Tobacco Information for Restaurants & Businesses

In 2004, the Rhode Island state Legislature approved a comprehensive smoke-free indoor workplace law that includes restaurants and bars. With that historic move, Rhode Island became the seventh state to take decisive action to protect the public's right to breathe clean air, free from the proven dangers of secondhand smoke. The law, which was fully implemented in 2005, includes coverage of workplaces, restaurants, health facilities, government buildings, schools, child care centers, and most bars.

Secondhand smoke isn't just annoying; it's scientifically proven to cause lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema and other illnesses and is responsible nationally for thousands of deaths each year. All of us should be able to earn a living, dine in a restaurant or enjoy a night out without putting our health at risk because of secondhand smoke. Children, especially, should be free from exposure to deadly second-hand smoke in public places, schools and in child care settings.

On June 22, 2009, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was signed into law. The law grants the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate the marketing, distribution, and manufacturing of tobacco products.

Under its new authority, the FDA issued a final rule, Regulations Restricting the Sale and Distribution of Cigarettes and Smokeless Tobacco to Protect Children and Adolescents, which was designed to significantly curb youth’s access to cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products. The rule, which has the force and effect of law, requires states to enact and enforce laws restricting children’s access to these products. The rule went into effect on June 22, 2010, but a number of requirements will be phased in over time.

The Rhode Island Department of Health is available to assist retailers in their efforts to implement the new regulations, however, specific questions about the Tobacco Control Act should be directed to the Food and Drug Adminstration by calling 1-877-287-1373. Complaints and disputes should be directed to the FDA ombudsman via phone at (301)796-9239.