Tobacco Retail Licensing Program

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In July 2016, the San Marcos City Council approved a municipal Tobacco Retail License (TRL) ordinance (Ordinance No. 2016-1428).  As of January 1, 2017, a TRL is required in order to sell any kind of tobacco products in the city.

A recent survey by Vista Community Clinic showed that there are some businesses in San Marcos that are selling tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to minors in violation of state law. The TRL ordinance will help further reduce the number of stores selling these products to children.

The ordinance is modeled on the successful ordinance that Vista has had for over 10 years. Tobacco retailers will be required to pay a $168.22 licensing fee that covers the costs of administration and yearly compliance checks by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.  Compliance checks will review existing tobacco laws regulating underage sales, compliance with the STAKE Act, and a requirement that retailers refrain from selling drug paraphernalia

Like the ordinance in Vista, retailers in San Marcos can receive cumulative discounts on the TRL fee for each of the following: no tobacco violations in the previous year, no tobacco advertising on the store windows or doors, driver’s license readers at the point of sale, and employee tobacco retailing education programs.  Discounts will be available the second year of a license after at least one compliance check has been completed.  Penalties for violations may include warnings, training requirements for employees, license suspension and license revocation.

The ordinance is linked below. If you have questions about the ordinance or the required license, you can contact Keith Gemmell, Senior Management Analyst, at (760) 744-1050, ext. 3116 or

Tobacco Retail License Application (PDF)    
Tobacco Retail Ordinance (PDF)
Drug paraphernalia prohibition - CA Health and Safety Code 11014.5 (PDF)

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