IPCPR Legislative | Restrictions in Virginia

Restrictions in Virginia


Smoking, Age and Sampling Restrictions in Virginia

Virginia state law prohibits smoking in public elevators, public restrooms, public schools and school buses, licensed daycare centers, hospital emergency rooms and restrooms, local health departments, polling places, indoor cashier and service lines, while pumping or delivering gasoline and while near a medical oxygen source in a health care facility. The smoking ban applies to both hookah lounges and cigar bars if they prepare and serve food. Smoking is also restricted to separately enclosed, separately ventilated rooms/areas in restaurants. By executive order, smoking is prohibited in offices and buildings occupied by executive branch agencies and institutions, including institutions of higher education.


Va. Code § 15.2-2824: Prohibitions on smoking, generally


Va. Code § 15.2-2825: Smoking in restaurants prohibited


Va. Code § 18.2-511.1: Smoking in proximity to medical oxygen source in health care facility


Va. Code § 46.2-819.4: Smoking in proximity to gas pumps


Local laws enacted prior to 1/1/1990 are not preempted. In addition, local ordinances adopted after January 1, 1990 cannot contain provisions that exceed state smoking restrictions.


Va. Code § 15.2-2828



The following are exempt from the ban on smoking: Tobacco stores, tobacco warehouses, tobacco manufacturing facilities, private clubs, operations that prepare food for catering services, pushcart operations, hotdog stands or other mobile points of service, and any outdoor area of a restaurant, with or without a roof covering, provided the outdoor area is not enclosed by temporary enclosures.

Smoking may also be permitted in any portion of a restaurant that is constructed so that the smoking area is: (1) structurally separated from the portion of the restaurant in which smoking is prohibited and to which entrance and exit is through a door; and (2) separately vented to prevent the recirculation of air from such area to the area of the restaurant where smoking is prohibited. At least one public entrance to the restaurant must be into an area of the restaurant where smoking is prohibited.


Va. Code § 15.2-2821

Va. Code § 15.2-2825


Hookah lounges and cigar bars are exempt from the smoking ban if they do not prepare or serve food, serve only pre-packaged foods and bottled or canned drinks, and comply with the law by modifying the structure so the smoking area is structurally separate from the non-smoking areas and vent the smoking area to prevent re-circulation of air from the smoking area into the non-smoking area.


Virginia Department of Health: Restaurants and Smoking in Virginia FAQs


Virginia law does not provide a specific application procedure to qualify for exemption from the smoking ban. Localities may have specific requirements.

Individuals under the age of 18 cannot purchase, attempt to purchase, or possess any tobacco product, nicotine vapor product, or alternative nicotine product. However, this prohibition does not apply to the possession of tobacco products by a person less than 18 years of age making a delivery of tobacco products in pursuance of his employment.


It is also illegal to sell to, distribute to, purchase for or knowingly permit the purchase by any person less than 18 years of age, knowing or having reason to believe that such person is less than 18 years of age, any tobacco product, including cigarettes, cigars, bidis and wrappings.


Retail establishments that sell tobacco products must post signs indicating that state law prohibits the sale of tobacco products to any person under the age of 18.


Va. Code § 18.2-371.2


Virginia law contains no specific provisions concerning state preemption of local youth access laws, so local communities are allowed to pass stronger laws or ordinances further restricting this area.

Federal regulations prohibit free samples of cigarettes and limit free samples of smokeless tobacco products to certain age-restricted venues under several conditions.


Regulations Restricting the Sale, Distribution, and Marketing of Cigarettes, Cigarette Tobacco, and Smokeless Tobacco: Consumer Fact Sheet


Staff reported that tobacco samples are taxed at the same rate as other tobacco products in Virginia.


Virginia law contains no specific provisions concerning state preemption of local sampling laws, so local communities are allowed to pass stronger laws or ordinances further restricting this area.

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