Tobacco Retail Licensing Program
On October 19, 2021, the City of Hesperia City Council adopted the Tobacco Retail Licensing Program. Effective December 19, 2021, the program is intended to ensure that retailers comply with tobacco control laws and business standards of the City of Hesperia to protect the health, safety, and welfare of our residents. The City has a substantial interest in reducing the number of individuals of all ages who use cigarettes and other tobacco products and a particular interest in protecting adolescents from tobacco usage and dependence as well as the many illnesses associated with tobacco use.
What are the general requirements of the Tobacco Retail Licensing Program?
- All tobacco retailers in the City of Hesperia must obtain and maintain a Tobacco Retail License to sell tobacco products.
- The license must be renewed annually and is separate from a City of Hesperia business license.
- STAKE Act age-of-sale warning sign must be posted at each point of sale.
- Retailer can get free signs by contacting the Tobacco Education Clearinghouse of California at (800) 258-9090 or www.tecc.org. Note: The We Card sign does not meet the state law requirements.
- No person shall sell a tobacco product or tobacco paraphernalia to a person under 21 years of age, including military personnel, unless federal law authorizes such sales to military personnel age eighteen (18) and above.
- An unexpired government-issued photo ID is required to purchase tobacco.
- All sales of tobacco shall be conducted in-person at the licensed location; retailer may not offer delivery sale or mobile vending of tobacco products.
- All tobacco retailers must provide education and training to employees on local laws preventing sales to those under 21 years of age.
- Sale of flavored tobacco products prohibited, including flavored e-cigarettes and menthol cigarettes, as well as tobacco flavor enhancers. This does not apply to flavored premium cigars with a wholesale price of $12.00 or more and flavored loose-leaf tobacco. Flavored shisha/hookah tobacco may only be sold in licensed stores that allow people 21 or older on the premises at any time.
- No sales of single cigarettes or packs with less than 20 cigarettes.
- No tobacco retailer shall sell:
- Little cigars unless they are sold in a package of at least twenty (20) little cigars; or
- Cigars unless they are sold in a package of at least five (5) cigars at a minimum price of $12.00 or more.
- No sale of tobacco products with labeling that includes the descriptors “light,” “low,” “mild,” or other similar words.
- Advertisement of presumptive flavored tobacco products is prohibited.
- No placement of advertising for blunt wraps within two feet of candy, snacks, or nonalcoholic beverages inside any store or business, or placement of advertising for blunt wraps lower than four feet above the floor.
- No sales of cartridges for electronic cigarettes and solutions for filling or refilling an electronic cigarette to persons under the age of 21. Products must be sold in child-resistant packaging and meet federal child-resistant packaging standards and testing procedures.
- No sales of bidis in businesses that allow persons under 18 years of age on the premises.
- No sales of tobacco products where cannabis is sold.
- No sales shall be permitted to any person of any drug paraphernalia, as defined under paragraph (d) of the Health and Safety Code Section 11364.5 and listed in H.M.C. 5.80.020 – General Requirements and Prohibitions.
- No samples or promotional items, and no tobacco coupons or discounts shall be honored or redeemed.
All tobacco retail establishments in the City of Hesperia must comply with the Tobacco Retail Licensing Program, which can be found here Licensing and Regulation of Tobacco Retailers.
Are there any exemptions to the Program?
Yes, there are certain exemptions to the Program, however, they are not without restrictions and consideration of the effort in preventing tobacco use among youth.
The exemptions, include:
- Hookah and shisha bars and/or lounges if the business qualifies as either a retail or wholesale tobacco shop or a private smokers’ lounge and does not serve food or beverages and limits entry to those aged 21 and over.
- The sale of premium cigars and premium cigars sold in a cigar lounge and consumed on the premises.
- Premium cigars must have a wholesale price of $12 or more.
- The sale of pipe tobacco or loose-leaf tobacco, but not any tobacco product suitable for making cigarettes, including roll-your-own cigarettes.
- Flavored shisha/hookah tobacco may only be sold in licensed stores that only allow people 21 or older on the premises at any time.
- Herbal or other plants intended for hookah smoking which do not contain, and are not made of or derive from, tobacco or nicotine (e.g., herbal shisha that does not contain tobacco or nicotine), are not tobacco products and are therefore not subject to California or federal minimum age of sale laws for tobacco products.
- It is likely that hookah and shisha bars or lounges that do offer herbal shisha, also sell tobacco shisha, and are required to limit entry to patrons who are 21 years and older; the same is true for smoke shops/tobacco retailers that sell these products.
I have to comply, what does this mean?
In order to comply with the program, your business will receive a yearly inspection from Code Enforcement. An inspection will be conducted at the tobacco retail location upon the application of a tobacco retail license. If violations are found, a correction notice will be sent to the applicant and to the property owner listing all violations. A license shall not be issued until all violations are corrected.
In accordance with City of Hesperia Section 5.80.110, Tobacco Retail License (TRL), inspections are conducted by staff from the Code Enforcement Division throughout the year to verify compliance with federal, state, and local tobacco related laws. As per HMC §1.12.080 (a), “code enforcement has the authority to enforce both the municipal code and state law.” For the purposes of the Tobacco Retail Program, Code Enforcement will conduct tobacco retail compliance inspections in line with State requirements.
Further information on tobacco control laws and enforcement that affect retail businesses is available at:
- Tobacco 21 Resources for Retailers: https://cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CCDPHP/DCDIC/CTCB/Pages/Tobacco21.aspx
- California Attorney General’s Office, Tobacco Litigation and Enforcement Section: http://oag.ca.gov/tobacco/litigation
- California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA): http://cdtfa.ca.gov/
- California Department of Public Health, Food and Drug Branch: https://cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CEH/DFDCS/Pages/FoodandDrugBranch.aspx
- List of Local Health Department Tobacco Control Program Contacts: https://cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CCDPHP/DCDIC/CTCB/Pages/Partners.aspx
The detailed checklist may be accessed here: Tobacco Retailer Inspection Checklist
How much does this program cost?
The annual cost for a Tobacco Retailer License is $210 per year. This fee does not include extensive enforcement costs, fines, or other fees that may be associated with compliance or other services.
For Tobacco retailers who also fall under the City’s Deemed Approved program (i.e., also retail alcohol), a Combination License will be available for $485. This fee is comprised of the Deemed Approved fee of $325 plus an additional $160 to cover the costs of Tobacco Retailer Inspections upon application and throughout the year.
The fees from the program will fund outreach, program administration, inspection costs, and enforcement costs as needed to ensure program compliance.
What happens if I do not comply or I have violations?
Should a business not pay for their Tobacco Retailer License or comply with all conditions of holding a Tobacco Retailer License, that license may be suspended for up to 1 year or revoked and civil or administrative penalties may apply.
- Not passing an inspection will result in a violation of the Tobacco Retail License.
- A violation will be issued for each offense.
- Violations will result in possible suspensions or revocations of the license:
- 1st violation: license suspended for 90 days.
- 2nd violation: license suspended for 120 days.
- 3rd violation: license suspended for one year.
- 4 or more violations within a 5-year period: license shall be revoked permanently.
- If it is found that a tobacco retailer has sold tobacco or a tobacco product to a minor under twenty-one (21) years of age, they will be subject to the penalties noted above, and upon the first violation of this nature, that retailer shall also apply for a conditional use permit (CUP) which may result in losing the ability to sell any and all tobacco products and/or a complete revocation of the tobacco retail license.
What happens if I operate without a valid tobacco retail license?
Operating without a valid license includes operating with a license that has been suspended or revoked is subject to the following:
- 1st violation: no new license may be issued for the person or location until 30 days have passed from the date of the violation.
- 2nd violation within any 5-year period: no new license may be issued for the person or location until 90 days have passed from the date of the violation.
- 3rd or subsequent violations within any 5-year period: no new license may be issued for the person or location until one year has passed from the date of the violation.
What are the penalties for non-compliance?
In addition to any penalties prescribed by the Municipal Code, which include fines or other civil penalties which can be found in Chapter 1.12 of the Municipal Code, the Tobacco Retail License program is also subject to the following:
- During the suspension or revocation period, no retailer shall be allowed to vend any tobacco product. All tobacco products shall be removed, and no tobacco product shall be displayed.
- Violating this section shall count as another violation which will increase the suspension period or may lead to revocation of license, depending on the number of violations. This is considered operating without a valid license.
How can I be sure I comply?
To ensure your businesses compliance, review the regulations found here Licensing and Regulation of Tobacco Retailers, be sure to pay your business license and Tobacco Retail License in full when the renewal is due and comply with all inspection requirements and correct any violations noted by the Code Enforcement Officer.
What if I have questions or concerns?
For inquiries about the Tobacco Retail License Application, please contact (760) 947-1311 or email Building@cityofhesperia.us.