California Tobacco Retailer Licensing

California Tobacco Retailer Licensing

Model Ordinance, Checklist, and Supplemental Plug-ins

We developed this model ordinance to help California cities and counties that want to require local tobacco retailer licensing (TRL). Licenses are one way to ensure compliance with local business standards, reduce youth access to tobacco, and limit the negative public health effects associated with tobacco use.

Start with our checklist, which includes a five phase model by the American Lung Association in California’s Center for Tobacco Policy & Organizing. The ordinance contains all the essential elements for a local tobacco retailer license, including descriptions of who must obtain a license, requirements and prohibitions for licensees, enforcement provisions, and penalties.

We've also drafted supplementary “plug-in” provisions that can be added to the model ordinance. Each plug-in provides a different policy option: some impose limitations on which businesses can be licensed, while others create additional requirements and prohibitions for licensed retailers.

Our TRL resources include: 

  • TRL: An Effective Tool for Public Health, a fact sheet explaining how TRL works, why many communities are pursuing this policy, and what goes into creating and implementing a strong TRL law
  • Tobacco Retailer Licensing Playbook, which outlines the ten strategies necessary for developing, implementing, and enforcing a comprehensive TRL policy
  • Tobacco Retailer Licensing Playbook Strategies, a recording of our webinar that addresses the steps necessary to create and implement an effective tobacco retailer licensing policy
  • TRL Model Ordinance Checklist, this companion checklist highlights key policy options available in the Model Ordinance (download below)
  • TRL Model Ordinance, a model ordinance containing all the essential elements for a local tobacco retailer license (download below)
  • Policy Provisions for a Tobacco Retailer License, a fact sheet that describes several TRL "Plug-ins" 
  • Plug-Ins for the TRL Model Ordinance, supplemental Plug-in provisions (with policy language) that can be added to the Model Ordinance (download below)
  • Plug-In Policy Options Regulating Price, additional financial policy options that can be added to the Model Ordinance (download below)
  • Tobacco Licensing Fee Calculator, a tool for local California communities to determine an appropriate fee that adequately supports the costs associated with implementing and enforcing a TRL system 
  • ChangeLab Solutions also has TRL FAQs to answer questions you may have

Please consult with us or your local government attorney if you want help adapting the ordinance. 

Important Information: The Tobacco Retailer Licensing Model Ordinance is under revision and the version available below may not account for recent changes to state and federal tobacco control laws. If your community wishes to learn more, please contact us for technical assistance.