Tobacco Retail License Program FAQ
- Why was the Tobacco Retail License Ordinance passed in Pico Rivera?
The Tobacco Retail License Ordinance was passed:
- to ensure that retailers comply with tobacco control laws to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the Pico Rivera community; and
- to limit youth access to tobacco products.
As a result of targeted industry marketing strategies, flavored tobacco products are marketed to youth and young adults, helping to establish tobacco habits that can lead to long-term addiction. Reducing youth exposure to these products will counteract this targeting.
- When does the ordinance go into effect?
Ordinance 1154 went into effect on 30 days after its passage on March 8, 2022. However, the City began an education and awareness campaign prior to the implementation of fees to tobacco retailers. Any retailer who sells tobacco products needs to acquire an annual Tobacco Retail License from the City of Pico Rivera beginning January 1, 2024.
- What is a flavored tobacco product?
A flavored tobacco product is any tobacco product which contains an ingredient that imparts a characterizing flavor. Flavored tobacco products can include, but are not limited to, flavored: cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, little cigars, Swishers, chewing tobacco, pipe tobacco, snuff, hookah, e-cigarette cartridges, e-juice, JUUL pods, and other flavored components for vaporizers.
- What is a characterizing flavor?
A characterizing flavor is a taste or aroma other than the taste or aroma of tobacco. Examples of characterizing flavor include:
- Menthol, mint, and wintergreen;
- Fruit flavors such as grape, cherry, mango, and watermelon;
- Candy flavors such as chocolate, vanilla, cotton candy, bubble gum, and licorice;
- Alcohol flavors such as wine, apple martini, piña colada, rum, and cognac;
- Spice flavors such as clove and cinnamon.
- Who is considered a tobacco retailer?
A tobacco retailer is any person or business that sells, offers for sale or distribution, exchanges, or offers to exchange for any form of consideration tobacco, tobacco products, or tobacco paraphernalia. Tobacco retailers must also be in possession of a California State Cigarette and Tobacco License in order to sell tobacco products in the state. No tobacco sales are permitted from mobile vending or pharmacies. Current electronic cigarette retailers are also considered tobacco retailers under the new ordinance and must apply for a local Tobacco Retail License.
- What are considered tobacco products?
A tobacco product includes any product containing, made, or derived from tobacco or nicotine intended for human consumption, whether smoked, heated, chewed, absorbed, dissolved, inhaled, snorted, sniffed, or ingested by any other means including, but not limited to, cigarettes, cigars, little cigars, chewing tobacco, pipe tobacco, or snuff. It also includes any electronic device that delivers nicotine or other substances to the person inhaling from the device including, but not limited to, an electronic cigarette, cigar, pipe, or hookah.
- What is tobacco paraphernalia?
Tobacco paraphernalia includes cigarette papers or wrappers, pipes, holders of smoking materials of all types, cigarette rolling machines, and any other item designed for the consumption, use, or preparation of tobacco products.
- How do retailers obtain a Tobacco Retail License?
Tobacco retailers in Pico Rivera are required to submit an application for a Tobacco Retail License and meet ordinance requirements to obtain and maintain a license. The application is available on the City’s website or can be obtained from the Finance Department in City Hall.
- Is there a fee to apply for a Tobacco Retail License?
There is no application fee. If a license is issued, the Tobacco Retail License fee is $520.
- How long is the Tobacco Retail License effective?
The term of the license is one (1) year. Each tobacco retailer needs to apply for renewal of the Tobacco Retail License no later than thirty (30) days before the license’s expiration date. The renewal fee is $520.
- What is the minimum age to purchase tobacco products?
The City Tobacco Retail License references “minimum age established by state law.” The minimum age to purchase tobacco in Pico Rivera is 21 to comply with the state requirement.
- What will happen if a retailer is cited for a license violation during an inspection?
Violations are subject to administrative fines and license suspension and/or revocation. Violations may also be subject to a civil action brought by the City of Pico Rivera, including suits for injunctive relief, which may also be punishable by fines. Criminal prosecution may also be sought for violations.
- What happens if a retailer wants to sell their business? Is their Tobacco Retail License transferrable to potential new owners?
No. A Tobacco Retail License may not be transferred from one person to another or from one location to another. A new license is required whenever a tobacco retailing location has a change in proprietor(s).
- What does it mean for a business if they cannot obtain a Tobacco Retail License?
A Tobacco Retail License is not the same as a business license. Retailers that do not have a Tobacco Retail License may still operate their business but will not be able to sell tobacco products.
- What should a retailer do if they have multiple tobacco retailing locations?
Each location in Pico Rivera that sells tobacco products and/or tobacco paraphernalia must have its own Tobacco Retail License.
- Is there an appeal process?
There is a process in place to appeal a denial, suspension, or revocation of a Tobacco Retail License and to appeal the imposition of administrative fines.