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Public Health Advocacy Institute

at Northeastern University School of Law

360 Huntington Avenue, 117CU

Boston, MA 02115


You are here: Home > Tobacco Control > Laws of New York > New York City Tobacco Retailer Licensing

New York City Tobacco Retailer Licensing

(N.Y.C. Admin. Code §§17-703, 20-202 & 20-561)


It is against the law for any person to sell tobacco products (as of February 24, 2018) and e-cigarettes (as of August 23, 2018) as a retail dealer without first obtaining a license for every place of business wherein that person sells tobacco products and/or e-cigarettes. Tobacco products include cigars, chewing tobacco, pipe tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, snus, bidi, snuff, shisha, dissolvable tobacco, or cigarettes. It is also unlawful for persons to permit premises under their control to sell tobacco products (as of February 24, 2018) and/or e-cigarettes (as of August 23, 2018) without a license.

Application Process

To obtain a license, a person must file an application with the Commissioner of Finance for each place of business where he or she wishes to sell tobacco products and/or e-cigarettes in the city. For each place of business, a fee of $110 for a tobacco retail dealer license and $200 for an e-cigarette retail dealer license must be paid every two years. Tobacco retail dealer licenses with an even number expire on December 31 of even-numbered years and odd-numbered licenses expire on December 31 of odd-numbered years. Electronic cigarette retail dealer licenses expire on November 30 of the even-numbered years and odd-numbered licenses expire on November 30 of odd-numbered years. E-cigarette and tobacco retail dealer licenses may not be assigned to anyone else by the licensee, and are only valid for the persons and places of businesses for which they are issued. Licenses must be clearly displayed at each retail location.


Caps on Tobacco Retail Dealer Licenses and E-Cigarette Retail Dealer Licenses

By law, the Department of Consumers Affairs (DCA) set caps (limits) on the number of Tobacco Retail Dealer licenses allowable in each community district. The caps are:

  • 50% of the number of active Tobacco Retail Dealer licenses on February 24, 2018
  • 50% of the number of licenses issued for Electronic Cigarette Retail Dealers after the initial application period of 120 days

Now that the caps are set, DCA will no longer accept new applications for either type of license until the number of licenses in the Community District is below the cap for that category. DCA will continue to accept renewal applications from licensees in good standing, including applications from new owners at the same address who apply for a new license within 30 days of the sale.

Pharmacies (or businesses that contain pharmacies) are no longer eligible to apply for Tobacco Retail Dealer licenses nor Electronic Cigarette Retail Dealer licenses.

Revocation and Suspension of a Tobacco or E-Cigarette Retail Dealer License

Revocation: A retailer’s license (of either type) must be revoked for a second violation within a two year period for:

  • Selling or offering for sale tobacco products not contained in a package which bears a health warning required by federal law (§17-704);
  • Allowing an employee who is under 18 to handle tobacco products unless he or she is under the supervision of someone who is 18 or older (§17-705); or
  • Selling tobacco products to an individual under 21 or failing to post a sign that such sales are prohibited (§17-706)

Suspension: A retailer’s license to sell tobacco products and/or e-cigarettes must be suspended for up to one year for a third violation of selling flavored tobacco products. (§§17-715 to 716)

Enforcement and Reporting Violations: Violations are enforced by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Department of Consumer Affairs. Violations may be reported to these departments. (§17-709)


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