(1)(a) Every person, firm, or corporation desiring to engage in business as a manufacturer, importer, exporter, distributing agent, or wholesale dealer of cigarettes within this state shall file with the division an application for a cigarette permit for each place of business located within this state or, in the absence of such place of business in this state, for wherever its principal place of business is located. Every application for a cigarette permit shall be made on forms furnished by the division and shall set forth the name under which the applicant transacts or intends to transact business, the location of the applicant’s place of business within the state, if any, and such other information as the division may require. If the applicant has or intends to have more than one place of business dealing in cigarettes within this state, the application shall state the location of each place of business. If the applicant is an association, the application shall set forth the names and addresses of the persons constituting the association, and if a corporation, the names and addresses of the principal officers thereof and any other information prescribed by the division for the purpose of identification. The application shall be signed and verified by oath or affirmation by the owner, if a natural person, and in the case of an association or partnership, members or partners thereof, and in the case of a corporation, by an executive officer thereof or by any person specifically authorized by the corporation to sign the application, to which shall be attached the written evidence of this authority.
(b) Permits shall be issued only to persons of good moral character, who are not less than 18 years of age. Permits to corporations shall be issued only to corporations whose officers are of good moral character and not less than 18 years of age. There shall be no exemptions from the permit fees herein provided to any persons, association of persons, or corporation, any law to the contrary notwithstanding.
(c) No permit under this part or chapter 569 shall be issued, maintained, or renewed if the applicant, its officers, or any person or persons owning directly or indirectly, in the aggregate, more than 10 percent of the ownership interests in the applicant:
1. Has been finally adjudicated as owing $500 or more in delinquent cigarette taxes;
2. Had a permit revoked by the division within the previous 2 years;
3. Has been convicted of selling stolen or counterfeit cigarettes, receiving stolen cigarettes, or being involved in the counterfeiting of cigarettes;
4. Has been convicted within the past 5 years of any offense against the cigarette laws of this state or convicted in this state, any other state, or the United States during the past 5 years of any offense designated as a felony by such state or the United States, or to a corporation, any of whose officers have been so convicted. The term “convicted” shall include an adjudication of guilt on a plea of guilty or a plea of nolo contendere, or the forfeiture of a bond when charged with a crime;
5. Has imported, or caused to be imported, into the United States any cigarette in violation of 19 U.S.C. s. 1681a; or
6. Has imported, or caused to be imported, into the United States, or manufactured for sale or distribution in the United States, any cigarette that does not fully comply with the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act (15 U.S.C. ss. 1331 et seq.).
(d) The division may refuse to issue a permit to any person, firm, or corporation whose permit under the cigarette law has been revoked, to any corporation an officer of which has had his or her permit under the cigarette law revoked, or to any person who is or has been an officer of a corporation whose permit has been revoked under the cigarette law. Any permit issued to a firm or corporation prohibited from obtaining such permit under the cigarette law may be revoked by the division.
(e) Prior to an application for a distributing agent, wholesale dealer, or exporter permit being approved, the applicant shall file a set of fingerprints on forms provided by the division. The applicant shall also file a set of fingerprints for any person or persons interested directly or indirectly with the applicant in the business for which the permit is being sought, when so required by the division. If the applicant or any person interested with the applicant, either directly or indirectly, in the business for which the permit is sought shall be such a person as is within the definition of persons to whom a permit shall be denied, then the application may be denied by the division. If the applicant is a partnership, all members of the partnership are required to file said fingerprints, or if a corporation, all principal officers of the corporation are required to file said fingerprints. The cigarette permit for a manufacturer, importer, distributing agent, wholesale dealer, or exporter shall be originally issued at a fee of $100, which sum is to cover the cost of the investigation required before issuing such permit.
(f) The cigarette permits issued under this section shall be renewed from year to year at an annual cost of $100, on or before July 1, upon making application to the division and upon payment of the annual renewal fee.
(g) Permittees, by acceptance of their permits, agree that their places of business or vehicles transporting cigarettes shall always be subject to be inspected and searched without a search warrant for the purpose of ascertaining that all provisions of this part are complied with by authorized employees of the division and also by sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, and police officers during business hours or during any other time such premises are occupied by the permittee or other persons. Retail cigarette dealers and manufacturers’ representatives, by dealing in cigarettes, agree that their places of business or vehicles transporting cigarettes shall always be subject to inspection and search without a search warrant for the purpose of ascertaining that all provisions of this part are complied with by authorized employees of the division and also by sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, and police officers during business hours or other times when the premises are occupied by the retail dealer or manufacturers’ representatives or other persons.
(h) No retail sales of cigarettes may be made at a location for which a wholesale dealer, distributing agent, or exporter permit has been issued. The excise tax on sales made to any traveling location, such as an itinerant store or industrial caterer, shall be paid into the General Revenue Fund unallocated. Cigarettes may be purchased for retail purposes only from a person holding a wholesale dealer permit. The invoice for the purchase of cigarettes must show the place of business for which the purchase is made and the cigarettes cannot be transferred to any other place of business for the purpose of resale.
(2) The division may not furnish stamps to evidence the payment of the taxes on cigarettes except to qualified wholesale dealers.
(3) Upon approval of the application, the division shall grant and issue to each applicant a cigarette permit for each place of business set forth in the application. Cigarette permits shall not be assignable and shall be valid only for the persons in whose names issued and for the transaction of business at the places designated therein and shall at all times be conspicuously displayed at the places for which issued.
(4) All permits of distributing agents, wholesale dealers, or exporters shall remain in force and effect until July 1 following their issuance, or until suspended or revoked for cause by the division, or surrendered by the permitholder.
(5) Whenever any permit issued under the provisions of this part is destroyed or lost, the holder thereof shall immediately make application for a duplicate permit on a form prescribed by the division, which application shall be filed with the division. The said application shall be under oath and shall state that the applicant is a holder of a valid permit which has been destroyed or lost as the case may be and that the said permit has not been suspended or revoked for cause by the division or surrendered by the permitholder.
(6) Applicants for a permit hereunder, by the acceptance of such permit, agree that their places of business covered by such permit shall always be subject to be inspected and searched without search warrant by the division or any of its authorized assistants and also by sheriffs, deputy sheriffs or police officers.
(7) The division shall promulgate suitable rules for carrying out the provisions of this section.
(8) Every person, firm, corporation, or business entity who deals in, or sells, stores, or operates as a wholesale dealer in, cigarettes, or who acts as a cigarette distributing agent or exporter in any manner whatsoever, and who does so without a cigarette permit as required by this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.