Solving the Youth Vaping Epidemic:
Local Tobacco Retail Licensing
Young people who live in communities with strong tobacco retail licenses are 33% less likely to start using cigarettes and 26% less likely to start using e-cigarettes (Astor et al., 2019).
What is tobacco retail licensing (TRL)?
With a local tobacco retail licensing law, the city or county government requires all businesses that sell tobacco products to obtain a license from the government in exchange for the privilege of selling these products. On an annual basis, retailers must fill out an application, pay a pre-determined fee, and meet any other requirements outlined in the ordinance. This fee allows for the retail licensing program to be self-financed, so all activity necessary to implement, administer, and maintain the licenses is fully funded by the money collected.
How can tobacco retail licensing benefit the community?
A tobacco retail licensing policy not only ensures businesses comply with responsible retailing practices, but it provides local governments greater oversight over tobacco-related activity in their own community.
They can oversee:
1) who can sell tobacco products,
2) what types of tobacco products can be sold, and
3) the penalty structure for illegally selling to minors or for being noncompliant with other tobacco-related policies.
Tobacco retail licensing has also been used to promote other innovative policy solutions, such as limiting the density of retailers per city square mile, banning establishments in close proximity to schools, and imposing additional restrictions on the sale and promotion of certain types of tobacco products that are particularly attractive to kids.
What about electronic cigarettes?
In Florida, the sale of e-cigarettes to minors has been prohibited since 2014. Beyond this law, e-cigarette sales are unregulated. Though 1 in 3 youth in Flagler County have used e-cigarettes, there are no restrictions on who can sell them or where they can be sold. Local cities and counties throughout the nation have taken steps to ensure that e-cigarettes are regulated and monitored in their communities by including e-cigarettes in the definition of a tobacco product when establishing a local tobacco retail licensing ordinance. By incorporating e-cigarettes into the policy, retailers selling e-cigarettes must abide by the same requirements and penalty structure as those selling other tobacco products.