The City of San Marcos to begin licensing tobacco retailers

Beginning Jan. 1, stores that sell any kind of tobacco products including electronic cigarettes in San Marcos will be required to get a tobacco retail license as part of the city’s efforts to curb youth access to the products. All affected businesses must return mailed applications by Dec. 31 for the 2017 calendar year in order to continue selling tobacco products.

According to a recent survey by Vista Community Clinic, there are some businesses in San Marcos that are selling tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to minors in violation of state law.

The licenses will cost roughly $190, which the city will use to make sure businesses are following tobacco laws, including restrictions on selling to underage users.

Increased compliance checks conducted by the San Diego Sheriff’s Department will review existing tobacco laws regulating underage sales, compliance with state sign and identification requirements, and a requirement that retailers refrain from selling drug paraphernalia.

“Compliance checks are the best monitoring technique because tobacco retailers risk losing their ability to sell tobacco products if there are repeat violations,” said City Manager Jack Griffin.

Stores caught violating the ordinance up to four times in three years will face suspensions on selling the products. A store that has five violations in three years could have its licensed revoked. Any store found selling drug paraphernalia could have their tobacco retail license suspended or revoked.

Tobacco retailers in San Marcos can receive cumulative discounts on the licensing fee for passing compliance checks and taking proactive steps to help minimize tobacco product sales to minors. Discounts will be available the second year of a license after at least one compliance check has been completed.

For more information about the Tobacco Retail License, visit, or contact Administrative Services Manager Michael Gordon at (760) 744-1050, ext. 3116 or

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