Licensing of persons engaged in tobacco business; initial and annual fees; suspension and revocation; registration and inspection of vending machines; bond by distributor; jurisdiction; licensing of promotional activities
- (a) No person shall engage in or conduct the business of manufacturing, importing, brokering, purchasing, selling, consigning, vending, dealing in, shipping, receiving, or distributing cigars, cigarettes, or loose or smokeless tobacco in this state without first obtaining a license from the commissioner.
- (b) All licenses shall be issued by the commissioner, who shall make rules and regulations with respect to applications for and issuance of the licenses and for other purposes of enforcing this chapter. The commissioner may refuse to issue any license under this chapter when the commissioner has reasonable cause to believe that the applicant has willfully withheld information requested of the applicant or required by the regulations to be provided or reported or when the commissioner has reasonable cause to believe that the information submitted in any application or report is false or misleading and is not given in good faith.
- (1) The annual renewal fee for a manufacturer's, importer's, distributor's, or dealer's license shall be $10.00. There shall also be a first year registration fee of $250.00 for a person commencing business as a manufacturer, importer, or distributor. All renewal applications shall be filed at least 30 days in advance of the expiration date shown on the license.
- (2) Each license, except a dealer's license, shall begin on July 1 and end on June 30 of the next succeeding year. The prescribed fee shall accompany every application for a license and shall apply for any portion of the annual period.
- (3) Each dealer's license shall be valid for 12 months beginning on the date of issue for the initial license, and the first day of the month of issue for subsequent licenses, and shall expire on the last day of the month preceding the month in which the initial license was issued. Any dealer licensed under the provisions of this Code section who is also licensed under Chapter 2 of Title 3 to sell alcoholic beverages may, upon written request to the commissioner, arrange to have both licenses renewed on the same date each year. Any dealer who follows the proper procedure for a renewal of his or her license, including filing the application for renewal at least 30 days in advance of the expiration date of his or her existing license, shall be allowed to continue operating as a dealer under the existing license until the commissioner has issued the new license or denied the application for renewal.
- (4) Each manufacturer's, importer's, distributor's, or dealer's license shall be subject to suspension or revocation for violation of any of the provisions of this chapter or of the rules and regulations made pursuant to this chapter or Chapters 13 and 13A of Title 10 or of the rules and regulations made pursuant to those chapters. A separate license shall be required for each place of business. No person shall hold a distributor's license and a dealer's license at the same time.
- (d) The commissioner may make rules and regulations governing the sale of cigars, cigarettes, loose or smokeless tobacco, and other tobacco products in vending machines. The commissioner shall require annually a special registration of each vending machine for any operation in this state and charge a license fee for the registration in the amount of $10.00 for each machine. The annual registration shall indicate the location of the vending machine. No vending machine shall be purchased or transported into this state for use in this state when the vending machine is not so designed as to permit inspection without opening the machine for the purpose of determining that all cigars, cigarettes, loose or smokeless tobacco, and other tobacco products contained in the machine bear the tax stamp required under this chapter.
- (e) The manufacturer's, importer's, distributor's, or dealer's license shall be exhibited in the place of business for which it is issued in the manner prescribed by the commissioner. The commissioner shall require each licensed distributor to file with the commissioner a bond in an amount of not less than $1,000.00 to guarantee the proper performance of the distributor's duties and the discharge of the distributor's liabilities under this chapter. The bond shall run concurrently with the distributor's license but shall remain in full force and effect for a period of one year after the expiration or revocation of the distributor's license unless the commissioner certifies that all obligations due the state arising under this chapter have been paid.
- (f) The jurisdiction of the commissioner in the administration of this chapter shall extend to every person using or consuming cigars, cigarettes, or loose or smokeless tobacco in this state and to every person dealing in cigars, cigarettes, or loose or smokeless tobacco in any way for business purposes and maintaining a place of business in this state. For the purpose of this chapter, the maintaining of an office, store, plant, warehouse, stock of goods, or regular sales or promotional activity, whether carried on automatically or by salespersons or other representatives, shall constitute, among other activities, the maintaining of a place of business. For the purpose of enforcement of this chapter and the rules and regulations promulgated under this chapter, notwithstanding any other provision of law, the commissioner or his or her duly appointed hearing officer is granted authority to conduct hearings which shall at all times be exercised in conformity with rules and regulations promulgated by the commissioner and consistent with Chapter 13 of Title 50, the "Georgia Administrative Procedure Act."
- (g) The commissioner may provide for the licensing of promotional activities, not including the sale of cigars, cigarettes, or loose or smokeless tobacco, carried on by the manufacturer. The fee for any such license shall be $10.00 annually.