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Tobacco retailer licensing

Health Factors: Tobacco Use
Decision Makers: Employers & Businesses Local Government State Government
Evidence Rating: Expert Opinion
Population Reach: 20-49% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: Likely to decrease disparities

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Description

Tobacco retailer licensing laws require retailers to purchase licenses and follow all tobacco control laws in order to sell tobacco products such as cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, cigars, and electronic cigarettes. Licenses are location-specific, non-transferable, and typically renewed annually. Licensing laws may restrict retailers’ proximity to youth-oriented facilities such as schools or playgrounds and limit retailer density (Ackerman 2016, PHLC-McLaughlin 2010). Penalties for violations vary by severity of infraction and can include license suspension or revocation. Some state laws preempt local retailer licensing; in municipalities with local licenses, retailers typically must purchase state and local licenses (Satterlund 2014, Ackerman 2016, PHLC-Licensing and zoning).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Reduced youth smoking
Reduced tobacco use

Evidence of Effectiveness

Tobacco retailer licensing is a suggested strategy to reduce tobacco use and youth exposure to tobacco (PHLC-McLaughlin 2010, Ribisl 2016, Ackerman 2016). A Santa Clara County, CA-based study suggests that licensing laws that prohibit tobacco retailers from being located within 1000 feet of a school or 500 feet of another tobacco retailer can reduce tobacco outlets by 30%, which may decrease youth exposure to tobacco (Coxe 2014). A New York and Missouri-based study suggests tobacco retailer density is greatest in primarily black and low income neighborhoods (Ribisl 2016). However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects (Ackerman 2016).

Successful campaigns to establish local retailer licensing laws often include local data, an engaged champion, strong relationships with local law enforcement, and educational efforts (Satterlund 2014). Licensing fees can generate revenue to help support retailer compliance with licensing laws and enforcement of tobacco control laws (PHLC-McLaughlin 2010, Ackerman 2016).

Implementation

United States

Most US states require that tobacco retailers purchase a license. Three states, Hawaii, Indiana, and Utah, limit proximity to youth-oriented facilities as of 2016; many other states are in the process of adopting similar policies. Six states limit or cap the total number of tobacco retailer licenses available within the state (Luke 2016).

Many cities also have tobacco licensing laws. In California, for example, 148 municipalities have tobacco licensing laws as of 2014 (ChangeLab-CA tobacco restrictions). California expanded its definition of a tobacco product for retail licensing purposes in 2016 to include any product made or derived from tobacco or nicotine intended for human consumption, any electronic smoking or vaping device, and any part of a tobacco product (CA BOE-Tobacco license). 

Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, retailers operating 10 or more retail outlets must have state permits to sell cigarettes, with a separate license for each location. Retailers owning fewer than 10 retail outlets must obtain a city or town license for each location. City or town licenses are also required for retailers of other tobacco products (ALA SLATI-WI). 

Implementation Resources

ChangeLab-TRL - ChangeLab Solutions. Tobacco retailer licensing (TRL): An effective tool for public health. 2012. Accessed on February 8, 2017
ChangeLab-TRL playbook - ChangeLab Solutions. Tobacco retailer licensing (TRL) playbook: 10 strategies for a comprehensive TRL policy. 2015. Accessed on February 8, 2017
PHLC-Licensing and zoning - Tobacco Control Legal Consortium (TCLC). Using licensing and zoning to regulate tobacco retailers: Tips and tools. Saint Paul: Public Health Law Center (PHLC). 2016. Accessed on February 8, 2017

Citations - Description

Ackerman 2016 - Ackerman A, Etow A, Bartel S, Ribisl KM. Reducing the density and number of tobacco retailers: Policy solutions and legal issues. Nicotine & Tobacco Research. 2016;19(2):133-140. Accessed on February 8, 2017
PHLC-Licensing and zoning - Tobacco Control Legal Consortium (TCLC). Using licensing and zoning to regulate tobacco retailers: Tips and tools. Saint Paul: Public Health Law Center (PHLC). 2016. Accessed on February 8, 2017
PHLC-McLaughlin 2010 - McLaughlin I. License to kill?: Tobacco retailer licensing as an effective enforcement tool. Tobacco Control Legal Consortium (TCLC). Saint Paul: Public Health Law Center (PHLC). 2010. Accessed on February 8, 2017
Satterlund 2014 - Satterlund TD, Treiber J, Haun S, Cassady D. Evaluating local policy adoption campaigns in california: Tobacco retail license (TRL) adoption. Journal of Community Health. 2014;39(3):584-591. Accessed on February 8, 2017

Citations - Evidence

Ackerman 2016 - Ackerman A, Etow A, Bartel S, Ribisl KM. Reducing the density and number of tobacco retailers: Policy solutions and legal issues. Nicotine & Tobacco Research. 2016;19(2):133-140. Accessed on February 8, 2017
Coxe 2014* - Coxe N, Webber W, Burkhart J, et al. Use of tobacco retail permitting to reduce youth access and exposure to tobacco in Santa Clara County, California. Preventive Medicine. 2014;67(Suppl 1):S46-S50. Accessed on February 8, 2017
PHLC-McLaughlin 2010 - McLaughlin I. License to kill?: Tobacco retailer licensing as an effective enforcement tool. Tobacco Control Legal Consortium (TCLC). Saint Paul: Public Health Law Center (PHLC). 2010. Accessed on February 8, 2017
Ribisl 2016* - Ribisl KM, Luke DA, Bohannon DL, Sorg AA, Moreland-Russell S. Reducing disparities in tobacco retailer density by banning tobacco product sales near schools. Nicotine & Tobacco Research. 2016;19(2):239-244. Accessed on February 8, 2017
Satterlund 2014 - Satterlund TD, Treiber J, Haun S, Cassady D. Evaluating local policy adoption campaigns in california: Tobacco retail license (TRL) adoption. Journal of Community Health. 2014;39(3):584-591. Accessed on February 8, 2017

Citations - Implementation

ALA SLATI-WI - American Lung Association (ALA). Tobacco Policy Project/State Legislated Actions on Tobacco Issues (SLATI). SLATI State information: Wisconsin. Licensing requirements for tobacco products. Accessed on February 8, 2017
CA BOE-Tobacco license - California State Board of Equalization (CA BOE). California Cigarette & Tobacco Products Licensing Act of 2003: Retailer License. 2017. Accessed on February 8, 2017
ChangeLab-CA tobacco restrictions - ChangeLab Solutions. California municipalities with laws restricting youth access to tobacco: A list from the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation (ANRF). 2014. Accessed on February 8, 2017
Luke 2016 - Luke DA, Sorg AA, Combs T, et al. Tobacco retail policy landscape: A longitudinal survey of US states. Tobacco Control. 2016;25(Suppl 1):i44-i51. Accessed on February 8, 2017

Page Last Updated

February 8, 2017

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