UPDATE: Enforcement of New Tobacco Laws Begin April 1, 2020
Effective December 19, 2019, Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors passed new tobacco retailer licensing laws to protect youth from tobacco influences in their communities.
Applicable to Unincorporated Contra Costa County Only
New: No sale of flavored tobacco products at any tobacco retailers
*Pending FDA approval
New: No sale of electronic smoking devices/vaping devices*
New: No sale of e-liquids/vaping liquids*
No sale of small packs of little cigars or cigarillos
No new significant tobacco retailers
No tobacco sold in pharmacies
Tobacco Retailers are expected to be compliant with the new laws by:
April 1, 2020
Retailers will no longer be eligible to sell or intend to sell any flavored tobacco product and vaping products. Previously the restriction of flavored tobacco products only applied to retailers near 1,000 ft of youth sensitive areas (parks, schools, playgrounds, and libraries), now it applies to ALL retailers.
Retailers found to be in violation of the law can be fined up to $500 for each day that they are in violation, per County Code 14-12.006.
"Administrative fines," may apply and retailers may face suspension or revocation of their tobacco retailer license.
Annual Tobacco Retailer License Renewals for the 2021-2022 Due:
July 1, 2020
- No tobacco retailer may sell any flavored tobacco product or menthol cigarette.
- No tobacco retailer may sell any electronic smoking device or e-liquid that is not approved by the FDA.
- The new definition of "Tobacco product" was expanded to include "any electronic smoking device that contains nicotine or can be used to deliver nicotine in aerosolized or vaporized form.
- NEW retailers operating within 1000 feet of schools, parks, playgrounds and libraries are prohibited from selling tobacco products. Existing tobacco retailers are exempt.
- NEW retailers within 500 feet of tobacco retailers are prohibited from selling tobacco products. Existing tobacco retailers are exempt.
- No NEW "Significant Tobacco Retailers", including vape shops, hookah bars or smoke shops are allowed. A "Significant Tobacco Retailer" is defined as having more than 20% of retail sales space and display area dedicated to tobacco retailing use.
- The definition of "tobacco products" and "smoke" have been revised to include all electronic smoking devices and liquids, including all electronic devices that could be used to deliver a dose of nicotine or other substances.
- The sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, is prohibited within at least 1,000 feet of schools, parks, playgrounds, and libraries.
- The sale of cigars, including little cigars and cigarillos, is prohibited in pack sizes under ten (10). Premium cigars that sell for $5.00 or more are exempt from this provision.
- No tobacco retailer's license will be issued that authorizes tobacco retailing in a pharmacy.
- Compliance with state and local storefront signage and drug paraphernalia sales laws is required in order to maintain a Contra Costa Tobacco Retailer License.
- Tobacco retailers are required to check identification (ID) of customers who appear younger than 27 years of age.
- The number of retailers that can sell tobacco products is "capped" at current number of licenses issued by the County.
Condition of License Suspension if a Violation of the Law Occurs:
- Tobacco retailers who have their license suspended due to violations of the law are required to remove tobacco advertising during license suspension periods.
- The time period reviewed for prior violations of the license (the "look-back" period) is expanded from 24 months (2 years) to 60 months (5 years) when considering the length of time for a license suspension for retailers found to be in violation of the law.
Definitions: Tobacco Product and Flavored Tobacco Product
- "Flavored tobacco product" means any tobacco product, other than cigarettes as defined by federal law, that contains a constituent that imparts a characterizing flavor. A tobacco producto whose labeling or packaging contains text or an image indicating that the product imparts a characterizing flavor is presumed to be a flavored tobacco products.
- "Tobacco product" means any of the following:
- Any product containing, made from, or derived from tobacco or nicotine that is intended for human consumption, whether smoked, heated, chewed, absorbed, disolved, inhaled, snorted, sniffed, or ingested by any other means, including but not limited to cigarettes, cigars, Little cigars, chewing tobacco, pipe tobacco, and snuff.
- Any electronic smoking device that contains nicotine or can be used to deliver nicotine in aerosolized or vaporized form.
- Any component, part, or accessory of a tobacco product, whether or not it is sold separately.
- "Tobacco product" does not include any product that has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for sale as a tobacco cessation product or for other therapeutic purposes where the product is marketed and sold solely for that approved purpose.
Contact Tobacco Prevention Staff with questions
at 888-877-4202 or email TobaccoPreventionTeam@cchealth.org
All tobacco retailers in Unincorporated Contra Costa must obtain a Tobacco Retailer License for each location each year through the Treasurer-Tax Collector's Office—Business License Tax Division. If a retailer sells tobacco without a valid or current license, the retailer can be cited and/or fined and if the retailer violates any federal, state or local tobacco control law, their license may be suspended. For more information, contact 888-877-4202 or email TobaccoPreventionTeam@cchealth.org
Resources & Materials
- Retailer Education Forum Power Point Slides
- Flavor Categories and Examples
- Prohibited Flavored Tobacco Products
- Ordinance No. 2019-34 Sale of Electronic Smoking Devices and E-Liquids Prohibited