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Tobacco Retailer Licensing (TRL)

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.

Cigarette smoking kills an estimated 480,000 people in the U.S. each year, including deaths attributed to secondhand smoke. This is more than alcohol, illegal drugs, homicide, suicide, car crashes, and AIDS combined.  


Big Tobacco continues to target young people with flavored tobacco products, which can put them at risk for a lifetime of nicotine addiction. The major tobacco companies now spend $8.4 billion per year—over $23 million every day—to promote their products, and many of their marketing efforts directly reach kids. Numerous internal tobacco industry documents, revealed in various tobacco lawsuits, show that tobacco companies see kids as young as 13 years of age as a key market and developed products and marketing campaigns aimed directly at them.  


Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.

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What is Comprehensive Tobacco Retailer Licensing? 


In California, it has been illegal to sell tobacco to someone under the age of 18 for more than 100 years. 

More than half of San Diego County jurisdictions have a tobacco retail licensing policy, including the East County cities of El Cajon, Lemon Grove and unincorporated San Diego County. Obtaining a tobacco retail license requires retailers to pay a permit fee to the City or Unincorporated area in which they operate. Revenues generated from these licensing fees are dedicated to enforcement programs that focus on protecting youth from illegal tobacco sales.  


A Comprehensive Tobacco Retailer License includes restrictions on flavored tobacco and vape products, limits the number of stores that sell tobacco, and establishes minimum prices for tobacco products. A survey conducted in 2019 by the California Tobacco Control Program found that nine out of 10 (88 percent) of adults in San Diego County were in favor of policies requiring store owners to have a local license to sell tobacco.  

Why We Need TRL

65% of the City of La Mesa's retailers illegally sold tobacco to a minor in June 2022. 

68% of the City of Santee's retailers illegally sold tobacco to a minor. 

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