California Comprehensive Tobacco Retailer Licensing

California Comprehensive Tobacco Retailer Licensing

Model Ordinance, Checklist, and Supplemental Plug-ins

ChangeLab Solutions developed this model ordinance to help California cities and counties that want to establish or strengthen a local tobacco retailer licensing (TRL) program. 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. Comprehensive TRL policies can also help reduce tobacco-related health inequities by countering the tobacco industry’s predatory targeting of underserved communities.

Start with our checklist, which includes a 5-phase model for enacting a TRL law (created by the American Lung Association in California’s Center for Tobacco Policy & Organizing) and lists the various policy components of our model ordinance. 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. The ordinance also includes additional policy options for regulating the tobacco retail environment—for example, restricting the sale of menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products or establishing a minimum price for tobacco products.

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

Comprehensive TRL model ordinance resources

  • TRL Model Ordinance Checklist: A companion checklist that highlights key policy options available in the model ordinance (download below).
  • Comprehensive TRL Model Ordinance: A model ordinance containing all the essential elements for a comprehensive local tobacco retailer license (download below).
  • Comprehensive TRL Model Ordinance "Plug-in" Policy Options: Plug-in provisions that can be added to the model ordinance to provide additional regulation and enforcement options (download below).
  • Tobacco Retailer Licensing Fee Calculator: A tool to help California communities determine an appropriate fee that will adequately support the costs associated with implementing and enforcing a TRL system. 

Additional TRL resources 

  • Tobacco Retailer Licensing: 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. It also describes how TRL provides a framework for other policies that can advance tobacco-related health equity.
  • Show Me Your License: The Basics of Tobacco Retailer Licensing: A fact sheet that answers common questions about TRL, provides talking points about the public health and equity benefits of TRL, and identifies complementary resources for communities that are ready to develop a policy.
  • Tobacco Retailer Licensing Playbook: A guide that outlines the 10 strategies necessary to develop, implement, and enforce a comprehensive TRL policy.
  • Point of Sale Playbook: A publication that outlines policy options for regulating how and where tobacco products are marketed and sold, including strategies for addressing the “four P’s” of tobacco marketing: place, price, product, and promotion.
  • TRL FAQs: ChangeLab Solutions answers questions you may have about tobacco retailer licensing.

To learn more, please contact us for technical assistance. Remember to subscribe to our news updates and support our work.