Is a local tobacco retailer licensing ordinance legal in California?

Yes. Local tobacco retailer licensing laws are specifically authorized by the state law requiring tobacco retailers to be licensed, which says that “[l]ocal licensing laws may provide for the suspension or revocation of the local license for any violation of a state tobacco control law.” (Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 22971.3.) As of October 2011, at least 100 cities and counties in California had adopted a local tobacco retailer licensing law. Of these laws, 86 have been classified as “strong” by the Center for Tobacco Policy & Organizing.

A California court has upheld the legality of local tobacco retailer licensing. In the case of Prime Gas v. City of Sacramento, the court dismissed a claim that California state law prohibits Sacramento’s tobacco retailer licensing ordinance. You can read the decision hereLearn more about tobacco retailer licensing on our TRL Licensing page.