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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 Retail Licensing

New York City Tobacco Retail 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 New York City 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 local 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 biennial fee of $200 for a Tobacco Retail Dealer license and $200 for an Electronic 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. Neither of these licenses may 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.

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

City law requires the Department of Consumers Affairs (DCA) to set a maximum number of Retail Dealer licenses that it issues in each Community District. The caps are:

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

To locate the specific number of licenses allowed in each Community District, visit NYC Open Data. DCA will no longer accept new applications for either type of license until the number of licenses in the Community District falls 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 purchasing the retail business.

Retail pharmacies (or a business that contains a retail pharmacy) may not sell tobacco products nor e-cigarettes and are ineligible to apply for a Retail Dealer license.

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

Revocation: DCA must revoke a Retail Dealer license 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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