Tobacco Retail License (TRL)

What is a Tobacco Retail License (TRL)?

A Tobacco Retail License gives a busines the right to sell tobacco in Petaluma. Under a local tobacco retailer licensing law, the government requires all business that sell tobacco products to obtain a license from the government in exchange for the privilege of selling tobacco products.


Tobacco use remains a significant public health problem and impediment to health equity in California and the United States. Each year, tobacco-related diseases cause the deaths of approximately 40,000 Californians1 and nearly half a million individuals in the United States, making tobacco use the nation’s leading cause of preventable death.2 For decades, governments at the federal, state, and local levels have advanced various policies intended to address this significant public health crisis.

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the sales, distribution, and marketing of tobacco products through the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (“Tobacco Control Act”). The State of California has additional rules regarding tobacco sales and use. Local governments, such as cities and Counties, also have the power to regulate tobacco use and sales in their jurisdictions.

The City of Petaluma has had rules about tobacco use and sales since the early 1990s. These rules prohibit sales of tobacco products through vending machines and and also do not allow smoking in multi-tenant dwelling units. See Chapter 8.20 of the Municipal Code for more information.

In partnership with the County of Sonoma Health Services Department, the City is embarking on the creation of a new Tobacco Retail License (TRL) ordinance. This ordinance would require tobacco retailers to pay a fee and impose tobacco sales restrictions aimed at discouraging youth from smoking. Adopting a Tobacco Retail License (TRL) ordinance has been on the list of City Council Goals since 2019. The current City Council has asked City staff to present an ordinance for consideration on November 15, 2021.


A TRL is being proposed to reduce youth access to tobacco, and to ensure compliance with other tobacco-related laws. While tobacco retailer licensing is primarily used to help enforce tobacco tax and point of sale laws, it can also control the location and concentration of tobacco retailers and impose additional restriction on the sale and promotion of tobacco products.


The TRL ordinance being proposed to Council in 2021 includes these components:

  • All tobacco retailers will be required to obtain an annual license from the City of Petaluma
  • No licenses issued to pharmacies
  • No new licenses to retailers within 1000 feet of youth oriented areas (Schools, Parks, etc.) and within 500 feet of other tobacco retailers.
  • Minimum prices and product packaging for tobacco products
  • No sales of flavored tobacco and electronic smoking device


City Council approved a proposed ordinance on November 15, 2021, after a presentation by City staff and public comment. Click HERE to read the staff report and proposed ordinance. Click HERE to watch video of the presentation.

The timeline for implementation is as follows:

2nd Reading of Ordinance/Final Council VoteDecember 6, 2021
Ordinance goes into effectJanuary 6, 2022 (30 days after second reading)
Full Implementation of the programJuly 6, 2022 (6 months after effective date

Tobacco retailers will be informed about the permitting process, fees, requirements, and enforcement procedures as those details are determined. For more information, contact [email protected].


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs—2014. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health. 2014. Available at:
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: 50 Years of Progress. A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health. 2014. Available at:
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