SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- After July 1, supermarkets and other retailers selling tobacco products will be required to possess a state license to legally sell such items. Furthermore, much like a liquor license, it must be displayed in an easily visible area of the store.
Retailers who continue to sell tobacco products without this license after July 1 will be subject to fines of up to $5,000 and other penalties from the state, including criminal prosecution and perhaps even incarceration.
Sources told SN this new law, which is backed by the California State Board of Equalization, was designed with a twofold purpose: to improve public health and crack down on illegal sales to minors. It was designed to work in conjunction with the Stop Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement (STAKE) Act, which requires places of business to post signs at each point-of-sale location indicating that sales of cigarettes to persons under the age of 18 are illegal and subject to criminal penalties.
Supermarkets have taken measures to curb underage tobacco sales over the past several years by moving cigarettes from easily accessible areas to enclosed, and oftentimes locked, merchandising displays. Tobacco enforcement in supermarkets has also been bolstered by the Synar Amendment, a bill enacted in 1992 that requires states to conduct random inspections of retail operations in search of noncompliance practices.