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NYC Imposes Strict Requirements on Vape Shops and E-Cigarette Retailers


With the rise of local ordinances impacting the ability to market and sell e-cigarettes and vape products, New York City (NYC) is the latest city to have quietly ushered in two new requirements vape shops and retailers of tobacco products must comply with, and have given just a short time frame to do so.

Requirement #1: Mandatory License for NYC E-Cigarette Retailers.

NYC has given a 4-month window for retailers of e-cigarettes to apply for the now mandatory license from its Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) and only less than 2 months remain to submit the application. The city’s definition of an e-cigarette includes any refill, cartridge, and any other component of an electronic cigarette.” NYC therefore considers sales of e-liquid and accessories to be included in its definition for “electronic cigarette sales.”

Known as the "Electronic Cigarette Retail Dealer" license, the application was quietly released with little to no fanfare from the DCA itself only in January 2018, and applications will be accepted only through April 25, 2018. The DCA has dubbed this as the "Initial Application Period" as the ability to obtain one after will be restricted due to the city’s intention to cap the number of licenses it issues by geographic districts.

Specifically targeting e-cigarette retailers, that is, both vape shop owners as well as other retail establishments which sell electronic cigarettes, all such retailers must apply and provide information regarding their business and its owners together with the application. Significantly, in order to obtain an Electronic Cigarette Retail Dealer license, you must certify that you were selling electronic cigarettes on or before August 28, 2017 and may be asked to submit proof of sales as of this date.

Other pertinent details include:

License Term: 2 years

License Fee: $200

Mandatory Date to have a license: August 23, 2018

NYC is doing this both to keep track of the entities selling these products in addition to creating a system to limit the number of those selling the products within a given community district.

Following the closing date of the Initial Application Period, from April 26th to August 22nd, DCA will process the applications it has received.

While acceptance of the application is not guaranteed, the consequences of failing to obtain a license are serious since all stores that sell electronic cigarettes in NYC must have one after August 23, 2018 and without it, the city prohibits the sale of such merchandise as such activity is considered illegal.

Requirement #2: Registration for E-Cig Use in a Vape Shop

The second requirement is for the registration of a retail electronic cigarette store with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene pursuant to the New York Smoke-Free Air Act. With this registration the use of electronic cigarettes is permitted in a retail electronic cigarette store. Without it, smoking inside a vape shop would be considered illegal.

A retail electronic cigarette store is defined under New York law as a retail store devoted primarily to the sale of electronic cigarettes, and in which the sale of other products is merely incidental, i.e., where such sales generate less than 25% of the shop’s total annual gross sales. It should be noted that this requirement is also mandatory for any NYC based “retail tobacco store.”

More information about each of these may be found at the NYC Dept. of Consumer Affairs website and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, both of which may be accessed through


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