Rhode Island

Clean Indoor Air

Public Places

Smoking shall be prohibited in almost all enclosed public places and places of employment, including all restaurants and bars. For a detailed list of public places covered, see Rhode Island General Laws section 23-20.10-3. Exempt from this prohibition are: 1) private residences, except when used as a licensed child care, adult day care or health care facility; 2) up to 50 percent of designated hotel and motel rooms; 3) retail tobacco stores as defined, as long as smoke doesn’t drift into other areas designated as non-smoking; 4) private and semiprivate rooms or designated areas in assisted living residences and nursing facilities; 5) outdoor places of employment; and 6) smoking bars as defined. This also does not apply to a stage performance provided that smoking is part of the theatrical production. Pari-mutual facilities (casinos) shall provide designated smoking and nonsmoking gaming areas in their facilities. The designated nonsmoking gaming area shall be physically separated from any smoking area and shall be required to have a separate and distinct ventilation system. Any bar or restaurant located in a pari-mutual facility shall be nonsmoking and be physically separate from any smoking area and shall have a separate ventilation system, except for bars which are presently in existence, located in, and not physically separated from a designated smoking area.

R.I. GEN. LAWS §§ 23-20.10-1 et seq. (2005).

Bingo games held in nonsmoking facilities are permitted to award a higher amount of total prizes in any one night than games held in smoking facilities. Prizes may total a maximum of $6,050 in cash and merchandise in nonsmoking facilities and $4,250 in smoking facilities.

R.I. GEN. LAWS § 11-19-32 (1995).

Government Buildings

Smoking shall be prohibited in all enclosed facilities within places of employment, including all public places of employment and vehicles being used by more than one employee. This includes common work areas, auditoriums, classrooms, conference and meeting rooms, private offices, elevators, hallways, medical facilities, cafeterias, employee lounges, stairs, restrooms, vehicles, and all other enclosed facilities. An employer may provide an outdoor smoking area, but the area must be physically separated from the enclosed workplace so as to prevent the migration of smoke into the workplace. This prohibition on smoking shall be communicated to all existing employees and to all prospective employees upon their application for employment.

R.I. GEN. LAWS §§ 23-20.10-1 et seq. (2005).

Private Workplaces

Smoking shall be prohibited in all enclosed facilities within places of employment without exception. This includes common work areas, auditoriums, classrooms, conference and meeting rooms, private offices, elevators, hallways, medical facilities, cafeterias, employee lounges, stairs, restrooms, vehicles, and all other enclosed facilities. The definition of “place of employment” includes vehicles being used by more than one employee. A private residence is not a “place of employment” unless it is used as a child care, adult day care or health care facility. An employer may provide an outdoor smoking area, but the area must be physically separated from the enclosed workplace so as to prevent the migration of smoke into the workplace. This prohibition on smoking shall be communicated to all existing employees and to all prospective employees upon their application for employment.

R.I. GEN. LAWS §§ 23-20.10-1 et seq. (2005).

Schools

Smoking is prohibited in all primary and secondary schools, indoor athletic facilities, school administration buildings, playgrounds, school buses and outdoor areas within 25 feet of any school building. The governing body of each school in Rhode Island shall be responsible for the development of enforcement procedures to prohibit tobacco product usage by any person utilizing school facilities. All facilities used by a school, whether owned, leased or rented, shall be subject to the provisions of this chapter. Governing bodies of schools are liable for a civil penalty of not less than $50 nor to exceed $500. Nothing contained in this chapter shall be construed to restrict the power or authority of any Rhode Island city, town or other legal subdivision to adopt and enforce additional local laws, ordinances, or regulations that comply with at least the minimal applicable standards to establish smoke free schools.

R.I. GEN. LAWS § 23-20.9-1 et seq. (1993).

Notwithstanding the above law, smoking shall be prohibited in all enclosed public places, including primary, secondary and post-secondary education facilities.

R.I. GEN. LAWS §§ 23-20.10-1 et seq. (2005).

Child Care Centers

No person shall smoke, chew, or otherwise use tobacco products in the buildings or outdoor play areas of a licensed child day care center or during the hours of operation in a family day care home or group family day care home, in any vehicle used for transporting children or in outside areas on the grounds or premises within 25 feet of buildings or outdoor play areas; provided, further, that smoking shall not occur on grounds or premises within the children’s view. The administrator of a child day care center shall post in a conspicuous place in the center a notice stating that smoking is prohibited in the facility and its vehicles and on its grounds. Smoking may be permitted in family day care homes and group family day care homes during hours in which individuals receiving day care are not present; provided, however, that the day care provider shall notify the parent, custodian, or guardian of each individual receiving day care services that smoking routinely occurs in the home during hours when the home is not in operation. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit a city or town from enacting or enforcing an ordinance relating to tobacco use in a facility providing day care services if the ordinance is more stringent than this section.

R.I. GEN. LAWS § 23-28.15-23 (2000).

Notwithstanding the above law, smoking shall be prohibited in all enclosed public places, including licensed child care and adult day care facilities.

R.I. GEN. LAWS §§ 23-20.10-1 et seq. (2005).

Health Facilities

Smoking shall be prohibited in all enclosed public places, including health care facilities and the lobbies, hallways and other common areas of nursing homes. “Health care facility” is defined as an office or institution providing care or treatment of diseases, whether physical, mental, emotional, or other medical, physiological or psychological conditions, including, but not limited to, hospitals, rehabilitation hospitals or other clinics, including weight control clinics, nursing homes, homes for the aging or chronically ill, laboratories, and offices of surgeons, chiropractors, physical therapists, physicians, dentists, and all specialists within these professions. Private and semi-private rooms or designated areas in assisted living residences and nursing facilities are exempt.

R.I. GEN. LAWS §§ 23-20.10-1 et seq. (2005).

Restaurants

Restaurants: Smoking shall be prohibited in all enclosed public places, including restaurants. “Restaurant” is defined as an eating establishment, including, but not limited to, coffee shops, cafeterias, and private and public school cafeterias, which gives or offers for sale food to the public, guests or employees, as well as kitchens and catering facilities in which food is prepared on the premises for serving elsewhere. The term “restaurant” shall include a bar area within the restaurant.

R.I. GEN. LAWS §§ 23-20.10-1 et seq. (2005).

Bars: Smoking shall be prohibited in all enclosed public places, including bars. Smoking bars are exempt. “Smoking bar” means an establishment whose business is primarily devoted to the serving of tobacco products for consumption on the premises, in which the annual revenues generated by tobacco sales are greater than 50 percent of the total revenue for the establishment and the serving of food or alcohol is only incidental to the consumption of such tobacco products. Smoking bars are required to provide a proper ventilation system which will prevent the migration of smoke into the street.

R.I. GEN. LAWS §§ 23-20.10-1 et seq. (2005).

Penalties/Enforcement

No-smoking signs must be clearly and conspicuously posted in every public place and place of employment where smoking is prohibited by this chapter, by the owner, operator, manager or other person in control of that place. An employer who violates the prohibition on smoking in public places or places of employment is liable for a civil penalty of $250 for the first violation, $500 for the second violation and $1,000 for the third violation. Each day the violation is committed or permitted to continue shall constitute a separate offense. Any citizen who desires to register a complaint under this chapter may initiate such a complaint with the Department of Health. The Department of Health, local fire department, or their designees shall, while an establishment is undergoing otherwise mandated inspections, inspect for compliance with this chapter.

R.I. GEN. LAWS §§ 23-20.10-1 et seq. (2005).

Tobacco Excise Tax

Cigarettes

Tax rate per pack of 20: $2.46

Date last changed: July 1, 2004 — from $1.71 to $2.46

Year first enacted: 1939

R.I. GEN. LAWS § 44-20-12 (2004).

Other Tobacco Products

Cigars, pipe tobacco products and smokeless tobacco other than snuff: 40% of the wholesale price, except the tax on cigars shall not exceed 50 cents per cigar;

Snuff: $1.00/oz. or proportionate rate on all fractional parts of an ounce

R.I. GEN. LAWS § 44-20-13.2 (2008).

Note: Although the language in state law is unclear on this issue, taxes on little cigars (not weighing more than 3 lbs. per thousand) are being collected at the same rate as the cigarette tax $2.46 per 20 cigars.

All proceeds collected from the taxes on other tobacco products are paid into the general fund.

R.I. GEN. LAWS § 44-20-13.2 (2008).

Revenue Collected

$117,365,000

Youth Access

Compliance/Enforcement

The Department of Mental Health, Retardation and Hospitals shall coordinate and promote the enforcement of the provisions of this chapter and serve as the primary liaison from this department to other state or local agencies, departments, or divisions on issues pertaining to stopping children’s access to tobacco. It shall investigate concurrently with other state and local officials’ violations of this chapter. It shall utilize unannounced statewide compliance checks of retail tobacco over-the-counter sales, mail order sales initiated via mail, facsimile, telephone or the Internet, and tobacco vending machine sales as part of investigating compliance. Underage individuals, acting as agents for the department and with the written permission of a parent or guardian, may purchase, with impunity from prosecution, tobacco products for the purposes of law enforcement or government research involving monitoring compliance with this chapter, provided that the underage individuals are supervised by an adult law enforcement official.

R.I. GEN. LAWS § 11-9-13.6 (2001).

Penalties for Sales to Minors

No person shall sell, give or deliver any tobacco in the form of cigarettes, bidi cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, or snuff to a person less than 18 years of age. No specific penalties are mentioned.

R.I. GEN. LAWS § 11-9-13 (2001).

A person that holds a license issued under chapter 20 of title 44, or an employee or agent of that person, is prohibited from selling, distributing or delivering a tobacco product to any individual that is less than 18 years of age. Violation is punishable by a fine of $250 for a first violation, $500 for a second violation within any 36 month period, $1,000 and a 14 day suspension of the license to sell tobacco products for a third violation within any 36 month period, and a fine of $1,500 and a 90 day suspension of the license to sell tobacco products for each violation in excess of three. The license holder is responsible for all violations that occur at the location for which the license is issued. The court shall suspend the imposition of a license suspension if the court finds that the license holder has taken measures to prevent the sale of tobacco to minors and the license holder can demonstrate to the court that those measures have been taken and that employees have received training. No person shall sell tobacco products, at retail, without first being trained in the legal sale of tobacco products. Dealers shall maintain records indicating that the provisions of this section were reviewed with all employees who conduct or will conduct tobacco sales. Each employee who sells or will sell tobacco products shall sign an acknowledgement form attesting that the provisions of this section were reviewed with them.

R.I. GEN. LAWS §§ 11-9-13.8 (2001) & 11-9-13.13 (2005).

Penalties to Minors

No person under 18 years of age shall purchase any tobacco in the form of cigarettes, bidi cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco or snuff. Specific penalty is not given.

R.I. GEN. LAWS § 11-9-13 (2001).

No person under 18 shall smoke, chew or possess, when such possession is clearly visible, tobacco in any form in or on any public street, place or resort. Violators shall be required to perform up to 30 hours of community service, or attend an approved tobacco treatment program at the discretion of the minor charged.

R.I. GEN. LAWS § 11-9-14 (2007).

Sign Posting

Signs provided by the Department of Mental Health, Retardation and Hospitals shall be posted at each cash register, vending machine or any other place where tobacco products are sold and shall contain in bold lettering a minimum of 3/8 inch high on a white background the following wording: “THE SALE OF CIGARETTES AND OTHER TOBACCO PRODUCTS TO PERSONS UNDER THE AGE OF 18 IS AGAINST RHODE ISLAND LAW (SECTION 11-9-13.8 (A) (1), RHODE ISLAND STATUTES). PHOTO ID FOR PROOF OF AGE IS REQUIRED FOR PURCHASE.” The signs shall also provide a phone number at the Department of Mental Health, Retardation and Hospitals where violations can be reported. Violation is punishable by a fine of $35 to $500 per civil violation.

R.I. GEN. LAWS §§ 11-9-13.6(2), 11-9-13.7 & 11-9-13.13 (2001).

Bidis

Any person is prohibited from selling tobacco products to minors. The definition of “tobacco product” includes bidi cigarettes. License holders face the same penalties as for selling or distributing tobacco products to minors.

R.I. GEN. LAWS §§ 11-9-13, 11-9-13.8, & 11-9-13.13 (2001).

Other Provisions

Internet Sales: No person shall make a delivery sale of cigarettes to any individual who is under the legal minimum purchase age in the state. Each person accepting a purchase order for a delivery sale shall comply with specific age verification requirements, including before the first sale obtaining a certification from the prospective consumer that includes reliable confirmation and a signed statement that the person is of the legal minimum purchase age, and makes a good faith effort to verify the information against a commercially available database or receives a photocopy of the individual’s government-issued identification; specific disclosure requirements; specific shipping requirements, including use of a method of mailing, shipping or delivery that obligates the delivery service to require the consumer placing the purchase order for the delivery sale or another adult of legal minimum purchase age residing at the consumer’s address, to sign to accept delivery of the shipping container and proof, in the form of a valid, government-issued identification bearing a photograph of the individual who signs to accept delivery of the shipping container, demonstrating that they are either the addressee or another adult of legal minimum purchase age residing at the consumer’s address; specific registration and reporting requirements; and specific tax collection requirements. A first violation of any provision of this chapter shall be punishable by a fine of $1,000 or five times the retail value of the cigarettes involved, whichever is greater. A second or subsequent violation shall be punishable by a fine of $5,000 or five times the retail value of the cigarettes involved, whichever is greater. Any person who knowingly violates any provision of this chapter, or who knowingly and falsely submits a required certification in another person’s name, shall, for each such offense, be fined $10,000 or five times the retail value of the cigarettes involved, whichever is greater, and/or imprisoned for not more than five years. Any person failing to collect or remit to the administrator any tax required in connection with a delivery sale, shall be assessed, in addition to any other penalty, a penalty of five times the retail value of the cigarettes involved.

R.I. GEN. LAWS §§ 44-20.1-1 et seq. (2005).

Internet Sales: Any person selling or distributing tobacco products in the form of cigars, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, or snuff directly to a consumer via the United States Postal Service, or by any other public or private postal or package delivery service, including orders placed by mail, telephone, facsimile, or the Internet, shall before distributing or selling the tobacco product through any of these means, receive both a copy of a valid form of government identification showing date of birth to verify the purchaser is age 18 years or over and an attestation from the purchaser certifying that the information on the government identification truly and correctly identifies the purchaser and the purchaser’s current address, and deliver the tobacco product to the address of the purchaser given on the valid form of government identification and by a postal or package delivery service method that either limits delivery to that purchaser and requires the purchaser to sign personally to receive the delivery or requires a signature of an adult at the purchaser’s address to deliver the package. The distribution, or sale or conveyance of tobacco products to persons under the age of 18 via the United States Postal Service, or by any other public or private postal or package delivery service is prohibited. A minimum fine of $1,000 shall be assessed against any distributor or seller for each delivery of a tobacco product to a person under 18 years of age.

R.I. GEN. LAWS § 11-9-13.11 (2005).

Note: Some parts of the above laws may be affected by the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Rowe v. New Hampshire Motor Transport Association, decided February 20, 2008.

Restrictions on Distribution of Tobacco Product Samples or Sales of Single Cigarettes

Samples

The distribution of free tobacco products or coupons or vouchers redeemable for free tobacco products to any person less than 18 years of age shall be prohibited. Further, the distribution of free tobacco products or coupons or vouchers redeemable for free tobacco products shall be prohibited, regardless of the age of the person to whom the products, coupons, or vouchers are distributed, within 500 feet of any school. Violators are subject to a $500 fine for each violation.

R.I. GEN LAWS § 11-9-13.10 (2001).

Single Cigarettes

A person that holds a license issued under chapter 20 of title 44, or an employee or agent of that person, is prohibited from selling, distributing or delivering a tobacco product in any other form than an original factory-wrapped package or as a single cigarette. Violators are subject to a $500 fine for each violation.

R.I. GEN. LAWS §§ 11-9-13.8 & 11-9-13.13 (1996).

No cigarettes shall be sold in packs which contain less than 20 cigarettes. Violation is subject to a fine of $75 for the first offense, $150 for the second offense, and $500 for subsequent offenses. In the event that there are no offenses in three successive years from the date of the last offense, then the next offense shall be treated as a first offense.

R.I. GEN. LAWS § 11-9-13.1 (2001).

Restrictions on Sale of Tobacco Products in Vending Machines

Placement

No cigarettes or any other tobacco product shall be sold from any device or vending machine which is in an area not continuously supervised and in the direct line of sight of an authorized person employed by the person, firm, or corporation that owns the business occupying the premises in which the vending machine is located. The vending machine shall also be equipped with an electronic locking device which will not allow the machine to dispense the product unless it is unlocked from a secured position inaccessible to the public and under the supervision of an authorized person employed by the business owner. Direct line of sight shall mean that the vending machine and the purchaser of cigarettes must be visible to the authorized person pressing the unlock button while the unlock button is being activated. Locking devices are not required on machines located in an establishment licensed to sell alcoholic beverages which limits access to persons over the age of 21 years. Tobacco products shall not be sold from vending machines containing non-tobacco products.

R.I. GEN. LAWS § 11-9-13.1 (2001).

Penalty

The owner of a business where a tobacco vending machine in violation of these provisions is located shall be subject to a fine of $75 for the first offense, $150 for the second offense, and $500 for subsequent offenses. In the event that there are no offenses in three successive years from the date of the last offense, then the next offense shall be treated as a first offense.

R.I. GEN. LAWS § 11-9-13.1 (2001).

Sign Posting

Signs provided by the Department of Mental Health, Retardation and Hospitals shall be posted on each tobacco product vending machine and shall contain in bold lettering a minimum of 3/8 inch high on a white background the following wording: “THE SALE OF CIGARETTES AND OTHER TOBACCO PRODUCTS TO PERSONS UNDER THE AGE OF 18 IS AGAINST RHODE ISLAND LAW (SECTION 11-9-13.8 (A) (1), RHODE ISLAND STATUTES). PHOTO ID FOR PROOF OF AGE IS REQUIRED FOR PURCHASE.” The signs shall also provide a phone number at the Department of Mental Health, Retardation and Hospitals where violations can be reported. Violation is punishable by a fine of $35 to $500 per civil violation.

R.I. GEN. LAWS §§ 11-9-13.6(2), 11-9-13.7 & 11-9-13.13 (2001).

Licensing Requirements

Requirements

Dealers (retailers), importers and distributors must obtain a license from the state Tax Administrator to sell cigarettes. A dealer’s license is also required for each cigarette vending machine. A separate application and license is required for each place of business operated by a distributor or dealer; provided, that an operator of vending machines for cigarette products is not required to obtain a distributor’s license for each machine. A dealer’s and importer’s license is valid through June 30th of the succeeding year unless suspended or revoked. A dealer must renew the license by February 1st of that same year. A distributor’s license is valid until May 31st of the succeeding year unless suspended or revoked, and may be renewed anytime before this date. Any distributor or dealer who sells, offers for sale, or possesses with intent to sell, any tobacco products without a license shall be subject to penalties specified in Rhode Island General Laws section 11-9-13.15.

R.I. GEN. LAWS §§ 44-20-2 to 44-20-6 (2007).

Fee

Dealers/Vending Machines: $25 for each place of business/vending machine annually;

Distributors: $100 or $1,000 annually, depending on if the distributor affixes tax stamps;

Importers: $1,000 annually

R.I. GEN. LAWS § 44-20-4 (2007).

License Suspension for Sales to Minors

License holders are subject to a 14-day suspension of their license for a third violation of the sales to minors law within three years, and a 90-day suspension of the license for any violations in excess of three. These suspensions can be waived if the licensee has a documented employee training program in place and meets other specified conditions.

R.I. GEN. LAWS §§ 11-9-13.8 & 11-9-13.13 (2001).

Smoker Protection Laws

No employer or agent of any employer shall require, as a condition of employment, that any employee refrain from smoking or using tobacco products outside the course of their employment, or otherwise discriminate against an individual with respect to their compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment for such use. The court may award up to three times the actual damages to a prevailing employee or prospective employee. Nonprofit organizations which as one of their primary purposes or objectives discourage the use of tobacco products by the general public are exempt from this law.

R.I. GEN. LAWS § 23-20.10-14 (2005).

Tobacco Liability

Industry Protection

In civil litigation under any legal theory involving a signatory, a successor of a signatory, or an affiliate of a signatory to the Master Settlement Agreement, the supersedeas bond to be furnished in order to stay the execution of the judgment during the entire course of appellate review shall be set in accordance with applicable laws or court rules, except that the total supersedeas bond in any one case that is required of all appellants collectively shall not exceed $50 million regardless of the value of the judgment. If an appellee proves by a preponderance of the evidence that an appellant is dissipating assets outside the ordinary course of business to avoid payment of a judgment, a court may require the appellant to post a supersedeas bond in an amount up to the total amount of the judgment.

R.I. GEN. LAWS § 42-133-11.1 (2008).

Tobacco Settlement

Tobacco Control Appropriations

Rhode Island allocated $925,736 for tobacco prevention and cessation programs in FY2009 (July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009) from the state general fund. $940,475 was allocated in FY2008.

FY2009 Annual Budget (H.B. 7390) enacted 6/26/08 and effective 7/1/08.

Securitization

The Rhode Island Tobacco Settlement Financing Corporation was created as a public corporation of the state having a legal existence separate from the state. On or before June 30, 2002, the state shall sell and assign to and the corporation shall acquire all or a portion of the state’s tobacco receipts. The corporation is authorized to issue bonds backed by the state’s tobacco receipts, and revenue is deposited into trust funds.

R.I. GEN. LAWS §§ 42-133-1 et seq. (2002).

Additionally, the Tobacco Settlement Financing Authority was authorized in June 2007 to sell bonds by August 1, 2007 backed by residual interest from the previously sold MSA payments to raise additional money not to exceed $195 million. The net proceeds from this sale are deposited in the Tobacco Settlement Financing Trust, and then used as specified.

H.B. 5300 enacted by veto override and effective 6/21/07.

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