Rhode Island

Key Contacts

Rhode Island Department of Revenue
Division of Taxation
Contact

Rhode Island Secretary of State
Public Information
(401) 222-3983
(401) 222-1404 fax
publicinfo@sos.ri.gov 

PCA Contact

Rachel Hall rachel@premiumcigars.org

Legislative Information

State Representatives

ex: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington, DC 20500

(buttons above: rename main doc’s so when it updates, it will update anywhere currently linked)

Taxation

Rhode Island imposes a tax on all smokeless tobacco, cigars, and pipe tobacco products sold or held for sale in the state by any person. The tax imposed on little cigars is imposed in accordance with the cigarette tax rules cited below. Any dealer or consumer who acquires untaxed tobacco products will also be liable for the tax.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 44-20-13.2: Tax imposed on smokeless tobacco, cigars, and pipe tobacco products

R.I. Gen. Laws § 44-20.2-2: Tax imposed on little cigars sold

R.I. Gen. Laws § 44-20-41: Monthly reports of distributors and dealers

R.I. Gen. Laws § 44-20-14: Return and payment of use tax


Division of Taxation staff reported that Rhode Island localities do not and cannot levy additional taxes on tobacco products.

The tax on tobacco products is 80% of the wholesale cost, except that the tax on snuff is $1.00 per ounce and a proportionate tax on all fractional parts, and the tax on cigars may not exceed $0.50 per cigar. The tax on little cigars is the same rate as the tax on cigarettes.  The payment of tax is to be evidenced by stamps, the tax is at the rate of 175 mills for each cigarette.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 44-20-13.2: Tax imposed on smokeless tobacco, cigars, and pipe tobacco products

R.I. Gen. Laws § 44-20.2-2: Tax imposed on little cigars sold

R.I. Gen. Laws § 44-20-12: Tax imposed on cigarettes sold

On or before the 10th day of each month, distributors must file the Distributor Tobacco Products Tax Return (Form OTP-1), along with payment for taxes due. A dealer or consumer who acquires untaxed tobacco products must file a Dealer/Consumer Other Tobacco Products Return within 5 days of coming into possession of the products, along with payment for taxes due.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 44-20-41: Monthly reports of distributors and dealers

R.I. Gen. Laws § 44-20-14: Return and payment of use tax

Form Type / NameForm Number / Link
Rhode Island Division of Taxation: Tobacco Products FormsTobacco Products Forms

Cigar and Smoking Tobacco Definitions

 “Smoking” or “smoke” means inhaling, exhaling, burning, or carrying any lighted or heated cigar, cigarette, pipe, weed, plant, other tobacco product or plant product, or other combustible substance in any manner or in any form intended for inhalation in any manner or form. “Smoking” or “smoke” also includes the use of electronic cigarettes, electronic cigars, electronic pipes, electronic nicotine delivery system products, or other similar products that rely on vaporization or aerosolization; provided, however, that smoking shall not include burning during a religious ceremony.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 20-20.10-2(14)

Distributor” means any person:

  • Whether located within or outside of Rhode Island, other than a dealer, who sells or distributes tobacco products within or into the state
  • Selling tobacco products directly to consumers in Rhode Island by means of at least 25 tobacco product vending machines
  • Engaged in this state in the business of manufacturing tobacco products or any person engaged in the business of selling tobacco products to dealers, or to other persons, for the purpose of resale only; provided, that 75% of all tobacco products sold by that person in Rhode Island are sold to dealers or other persons for resale and selling tobacco products directly to at least 40 dealers or other persons for resale or
  • Maintaining one or more regular places of business in this state for that purpose; provided, that 75% of the sold cigarettes are purchased directly from the manufacturer and selling cigarettes directly to at least 40 dealers or other persons for resale

R.I. Gen. Laws § 44-20-1(4)

Dealer” means any person, whether located within or outside of this state, who sells or distributes tobacco products to a consumer in this state.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 44-20-1(3)

Sale”or“sell” means gifts, exchanges, and barter of cigarettes and/or other tobacco products. The act of holding, storing, or keeping cigarettes and/or other tobacco products at a place of business for any purpose shall be presumed to be holding the cigarettes and/or other tobacco products for sale.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 44-20-1(10)

Restrictions

Rhode Island law prohibits smoking: in all enclosed public places, including aquariums, galleries, libraries, museums, professional offices, banks, laundromats, hotels, motels, bars, bingo facilities when a bingo game is in progress, convention facilities, elevators, entertainment facilities, health care facilities, licensed child and adult day care facilities, common areas in multiple unit residential facilities with more than 4 units, polling places, public transportation facilities, buses, taxicabs, restaurants, public beaches, restrooms, lobbies, reception areas, hallways, retail stores, places of meeting or public assembly under government control, schools, service lines, shopping malls, and sports arenas; and in all enclosed facilities within places of employment, including 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.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 23-20.10-3: Prohibition of smoking in public places

R.I. Gen. Laws § 23-20.10-4: Prohibition of smoking in places of employment


“No smoking” signs or the international “No smoking” symbol (consisting of a pictorial representation of a burning cigarette enclosed in a red circle with a red bar across it) must be clearly and conspicuously posted in every public place and place of employment where smoking is prohibited, by the owner, operator, manager, or other people in control of that place. Every public place and place of employment where smoking is prohibited must have posted at every entrance a conspicuous sign clearly stating that smoking is prohibited. All signs must be attached at eye level and contain the following words “IT IS ILLEGAL TO SMOKE IN THIS ESTABLISHMENT”. 

R.I. Gen. Laws § 23-20.10-7: Posting of signs


Rhode Island law contains no specific provisions concerning state preemption of local smoking laws in general, so local communities may pass more stringent laws or ordinances in this area.

The following are exempt from the ban on smoking, subject to conditions:

  • Private residences, except when used as licensed childcare, adult daycare, or health care facility
  • Designated hotel and motel rooms that are rented to guests and are designated as smoking rooms; provided, however, that not more than 50% of rooms rented to guests in a hotel or motel may be so designated
  • Retail tobacco stores; provided that smoke from these places does not infiltrate into areas where smoking is prohibited
    • Retail tobacco store”means a retail store utilized primarily for the sale of tobacco products and accessories in which the total annual revenues generated by the sale of other products are no greater than 25% of the total revenue for the establishment. 
  • Private and semi-private rooms or designated areas in assisted living residences and nursing facilities as allowed by regulation of the department of health
  • Outdoor areas of places of employment, except those where smoking is specifically prohibited
  • Smoking bars
    • 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% of the total revenue for the establishment and the serving of food or alcohol is only incidental to the consumption of such tobacco products.  Effective 7/1/2015, all existing establishments and establishments that open thereafter must demonstrate quarterly, for a period of one year and annually thereafter, that the annual revenue generated from the serving of tobacco products is greater than fifty percent (50%) of the total revenue for the establishment, and the serving of food, alcohol or beverages is only incidental to the consumption of such tobacco products.  Every owner of a smoking bar shall register no later than January 1 of each year with the division of taxation and shall provide, at a minimum, the owner’s name and address and the name and address of the smoking bar.  Smoking bars shall only allow consumption of food and beverages sold by the establishment on the premises and the establishment shall have public access only from the street.  Any smoking bar is required to provide a proper ventilation system that will prevent the migration of smoke into the street. 
    • Smoking bars must submit a yearly affidavit to the Division of Taxation attesting to compliance with the above requirements. Division of Taxation staff reported that there is not a specific form for the affidavit.
  • Stage performances provided that smoking is part of a theatrical production

R.I. Gen. Laws § 23-20.10-6: Where smoking not regulated

R.I. Gen. Laws § 20-20.10-2: Definitions

Individuals under 18 years of age cannot purchase any tobacco in the form of cigarettes, bidi cigarettes, cigars, little cigars, flavored cigars are known as “blunts,” unflavored “blunts,” flavored and unflavored blunt wraps, cigarette rolling papers of any size or composition, cigarillos, and tiparillos, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, electronic nicotine-delivery systems, or snuff. Individuals under 18 years of age also cannot use or possess, when such possession is clearly visible, tobacco in any public street, place, or resort.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-9-13: Purchase, sale, or delivery of tobacco products to persons under eighteen; posting notice of the law

R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-9-14: Use of tobacco by minors


Barrington and Central Falls have raised their sales age for tobacco products to 21 years.

Department of Labor staff reported that the minimum age to work as a sales clerk in a retail tobacco store is 14.

It is illegal for any person to sell, give, or deliver to any person under 18 years of age any tobacco in the form of cigarettes, bidi cigarettes, cigars, little cigars, flavored cigars known as “blunts,” unflavored “blunts,” flavored and unflavored blunt wraps, cigarette rolling papers of any size or composition, cigarillos and tiparillos, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, electronic nicotine-delivery systems, or snuff.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-9-13: Purchase, sale, or delivery of tobacco products to persons under eighteen; posting notice of the law


Any person, firm, or corporation that owns, manages, or operates a place of business in which tobacco products are sold must post the conspicuous notice in red letters at least 3/8 inches high on a white background:

THE SALE OF CIGARETTES, TOBACCO AND ELECTRONIC NICOTINE-DELIVERY SYSTEM PRODUCTS TO PERSONS UNDER THE AGE OF 18 IS AGAINST RHODE ISLAND LAW (§ 11-9-13.8(1), Rhode Island Statutes) PHOTO ID FOR PROOF OF AGE IS REQUIRED FOR PURCHASE.

Signs must also be displayed prominently for public view wherever tobacco products are sold that state, in red letters at least .25″ high on a white background:

WARNING: SMOKING CIGARETTES CONTRIBUTES TO LUNG DISEASE, CANCER, HEART DISEASE, STROKE, AND RESPIRATORY ILLNESS AND DURING PREGNANCY MAY RESULT IN LOW BIRTH WEIGHT AND PREMATURE BIRTH.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-9-13: Purchase, sale, or delivery of tobacco products to persons under eighteen; posting notice of the law

R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-9-13.7: Signs concerning sales to individuals under age eighteen (18)

R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-9-13.8.1: Signs concerning the health effects of tobacco


Rhode Island law contains no specific provisions concerning state preemption of local youth access laws, so local communities may pass more stringent laws or ordinances in this area.

In Rhode Island, the distribution of free tobacco products and electronic nicotine-delivery systems or coupons or vouchers redeemable for free tobacco or electronic nicotine-delivery system products to any person under 18 years of age is prohibited. Further, the distribution of free tobacco products or electronic nicotine-delivery systems or coupons or vouchers redeemable for free tobacco or electronic nicotine-delivery systems products is prohibited, regardless of the age of the person to whom the products, coupons, or vouchers are distributed, within five 500 feet of any school.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-9-13.10: Prohibition on the distribution of free tobacco products


Distribution of tobacco samples is subject to tax and licensing requirements, as the term “sale” includes and applies to gifts, exchanges, and barter.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 44-20-1(10)


Rhode Island law contains no specific provision concerning state preemption of sampling, so local communities may pass more stringent laws or ordinances on tobacco sampling.

Operating Your Business

Each person engaging in the business of selling tobacco products in Rhode Island, including any distributor or dealer, must secure a license from the Division of Taxation before engaging in that business. A separate application and license are required for each place of business operated by a distributor or dealer.  Distributors must obtain a Tobacco Products Distributor’s License by filing a Tobacco Products Distributor’s License Application (Form TOB-APP) and a $100 fee. Dealers must obtain a Cigarette Dealer’s License by filing an Application for Cigarette Dealer’s License (Form T-152) and a $25 fee.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 44-20-2: Importer, distributor, and dealer licenses required; licenses required

R.I. Gen. Laws § 44-20-4: Application for license; display


Distributor’s Licenses are valid unless terminated or revoked. Dealer Licenses expire every year on June 30th and must be renewed on or before February 1st of each year by filing a Cigarette Dealer’s License Renewal Application (Form CDR-1).

R.I. Gen. Laws § 44-20-5(b): Duration of importer’s and dealer’s licenses; renewal


On or before the 10th day of each month, distributors must file the Distributor Tobacco Products Tax Return (Form OTP-1), along with payment for taxes due. A dealer or consumer who acquires untaxed tobacco products must file a Dealer/Consumer Other Tobacco Products Return within 5 days of coming into possession of the products, along with payment for taxes due.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 44-20-41: Monthly reports of distributors and dealers

R.I. Gen. Laws § 44-20-14: Return and payment of use tax


Smoking bars may allow both smoking and drinking within their establishments, subject to certain conditions:

  • 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% of the total revenue for the establishment and the serving of food or alcohol is only incidental to the consumption of such tobacco products.  Effective 7/1/2015, all existing establishments and establishments that open thereafter must demonstrate quarterly, for a period of one year and annually thereafter, that the annual revenue generated from the serving of tobacco products is greater than fifty percent (50%) of the total revenue for the establishment, and the serving of food, alcohol or beverages is only incidental to the consumption of such tobacco products.  Every owner of a smoking bar shall register no later than January 1 of each year with the division of taxation and shall provide, at a minimum, the owner’s name and address and the name and address of the smoking bar. Smoking bars shall only allow consumption of food and beverages sold by the establishment on the premises, and the establishment shall have public access only from the street.  Any smoking bar is required to provide a proper ventilation system that will prevent the migration of smoke into the street. 
  • Smoking bars must submit a yearly affidavit to the Division of Taxation attesting to compliance with the above requirements.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 23-20.10-6: Where smoking not regulated

R.I. Gen. Laws § 20-20.10-2: Definitions


Any retail establishment that includes a pharmacy shall be prohibited from selling, giving or offering any tobacco in the form of cigarettes, bidi cigarettes, cigars, little cigars, flavored cigars known as “blunts“, unflavored “blunts“, flavored and unflavored blunt wraps, cigarette rolling papers of any size or composition, cigarillos, and tiparillos, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, or snuff. 

R.I. Gen. Laws § 5-19.1-32: Prohibition on the sale of tobacco


Localities may require additional business licenses.

Form Type / NameForm Number / Link
Rhode Island Division of Taxation: Tobacco Products FormsTobacco Products Forms
Tobacco Products Distributor’s License ApplicationForm TOB-APP
Distributor’s Other Tobacco Products Tax ReturnForm OTP-1
Dealer/Consumer Other Tobacco Products ReturnForm OTP-4
Rhode Island Division of Taxation: Cigarette Tax FormsCigarette Tax Forms
Application for Cigarette Dealer’s LicenseForm T-152
Cigarette Dealer’s License Renewal Application (2019—2020)Form CDR-1

Political Involvement

Lobbying”means acting directly or soliciting others to act for the purpose of promoting, opposing, amending, or influencing any action or inaction by any member of the executive or legislative branch of state government or any public corporation.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-139.1-3

Lobbyist” any of the following:

  • Contract Lobbyist
  • In-House Lobbyist
  • Governmental Lobbyist

 “Lobbyist” does not include:

  • Licensed attorneys who: (i) Represent a client in a contested administrative proceeding, a licensing or permitting proceeding, or a disciplinary proceeding; and (ii) Engage in any communications with an executive branch official or office if those communications are incidental to the attorney’s representation of their client 
  • A qualified expert witness testifying in an administrative proceeding
  • An employee of any branch of federal, state, or local government or of any public corporation to the extent that he or she seeks only to influence or affect decisions or actions of other governmental entities and public corporations solely on its own behalf
  • Any member of the general assembly, any general officer of the state, any head of any executive department of state government, and any judge of this state acting in his or her official capacity
  • Persons participating in a governmental advisory committee or task force
  • Persons appearing on behalf of a business entity by which they are employed or organization with which they are associated, if that person’s regular duties do not include lobbying or government relations
  • Persons appearing solely on their own behalf
  • Employees or agents of the news media who write, publish, or broadcast news items or editorials which directly or indirectly promote or oppose any action or inaction by any member or office of the executive or legislative branch of state government
  • Individuals participating in or attending a rally, protest, or other public assemblage organized for the expression of political or social views, positions, or beliefs
  • Individuals, other than employees or agents of the news media, involved in the issuance and dissemination of any publication, including data, research, or analysis on public policy issues that are available to the general public, including news media reports, editorials, commentary, or advertisements
  • Individuals responding to a request for information made by a state agency, department, legislative body, or public corporation 

R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-139.1-3

Contract lobbyist” means any person who engages in lobbying as the appointed or engaged representative of another person.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-139.1-3

In-house lobbyist” means any employee, officer, director, or agent of a corporation, partnership, or other business entity or organization whose job responsibilities include lobbying.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-139.1-3

Governmental lobbyist” means any employee of any federal, state, or local government office or agency or any public corporation that engages in lobbying.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-139.1-3

Registrations shall be effective as of the date upon which a Lobbyist provides or confirms the following information in the electronic form to the Secretary’s online register and pays any applicable badge fee, which must be within seven (7) calendar days of any Lobbying engagement:

  1. Name, telephone number, email address, web address (if applicable) and address ofthe Lobbyist;
  2. The legislation by bill number or by the subject matter(s) of theLobbying;
  3. The executive branch officials or public bodies to be Lobbied;
  4. Total Compensation expected to be paid, except for Lobbyists employed by a Lobbying Firm; and
  5. Any other reasonable information required by the Secretary, which may include information necessary to ensure compliance with the Rhode Island “revolvingdoor statute” at R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-5(e)(4), as amendedhereafter.

Lobbyists, excluding Governmental Lobbyists, must submit monthly online reports to the Secretary on the form designated by the Secretary, in the months of February through July. Each report must include the Lobbying activity during the calendar month immediately preceding such filing, and upon the termination of the Lobbyist’s engagement. The reports will be maintained as public documents.

Lobbyists, excluding Governmental Lobbyists, must submit quarterly online reports to the Secretary on the form designated by the Secretary by October fifteenth (15th) and January fifteenth (15th). Each quarterly report must include the Lobbying activity during the three (3) calendar months immediately preceding such filing, and upon the termination of the Lobbyist’s engagement. The reports will be maintained as public documents.

There is an initial badge fee of $10.00 and a replacement fee of $10.00.

Lobbyist registration statements and reports may be submitted electronically through the Lobbyist Information Portal.

Form Type / NameForm Number / Link
Rules and Regulations Relating to the Rhode Island Lobbying Reform Act (100-RICR-40-15-1)Rules and Regulations

Shipping Regulations

Rhode Island does not have any specific restrictions concerning the shipping of tobacco products to consumers, but Rhode Island has age verification requirements. 

Each person engaging in the business of selling tobacco products in Rhode Island, including any distributor or dealer, must secure a license from the Division of Taxation before engaging in that business. A separate application and license are required for each place of business operated by a distributor or dealer. Distributors must obtain a Tobacco Products Distributor’s License by filing a Tobacco Products Distributor’s License Application (Form TOB-APP) and a $100 fee. Dealers must obtain a Cigarette Dealer’s License by filing an Application for Cigarette Dealer’s License (Form T-152) and a $25 fee.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 44-20-2: Importer, distributor, and dealer licenses required; licenses required

R.I. Gen. Laws § 44-20-4: Application for license; display

The distribution, or sale or conveyance of tobacco products to children under 18 via the United States Postal Service, or by any other public or private postal or package delivery service, shall be prohibited.  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 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.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-9-13.11: Prohibition on the sale or distribution of tobacco products through the mail conveyance of tobacco products through the mail to children under 18 

Rhode Island imposes a tax on all smokeless tobacco, cigars, and pipe tobacco products sold or held for sale in the state by any person. The tax imposed on little cigars is imposed in accordance with the cigarette tax rules cited below. Any dealer or consumer who acquires untaxed tobacco products will also be liable for the tax.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 44-20-13.2: Tax imposed on smokeless tobacco, cigars, and pipe tobacco products

R.I. Gen. Laws § 44-20.2-2: Tax imposed on little cigars sold

R.I. Gen. Laws § 44-20-41: Monthly reports of distributors and dealers

R.I. Gen. Laws § 44-20-14: Return and payment of use tax


Rhode Island law does not include an additional tax for shipping or transporting other tobacco products.


Disclaimer: PCA believes the information on this site is accurate. However, tobacco laws and regulations are subject to frequent change and court interpretation. Statements above are not intended as legal advice or restatement of law. PCA does not guarantee or assume responsibility for the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of this information, nor that this information complies with all federal laws or the laws of all 50 states. Parties acknowledge and agree it is not the intention of PCA to provide specific legal advice for particular individuals, but rather to provide users with general information to better understand these issues. Users shall neither construe any of these materials as legal advice nor make this site the primary basis for any legal decisions made by or on your behalf and agree to release and waive any claims against PCA for the same. You shall consult with legal advisors concerning any contemplated individual decision.