Division of Alcoholic beverages and tobacco
The Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco licenses the alcoholic beverage and tobacco industries, collects and audits taxes and fees paid by the licensees, and enforces the laws and regulation of the alcoholic beverage and tobacco industries, pursuant to Chapter 210, Chapters 561-565 and Chapters 567-569 of Florida Statutes. Florida has approximately 75,000 active alcoholic beverage and tobacco license holders. The division generates over $1.9 billion in license fees, taxes, fines, etc. With 328.25 employees, these responsibilities are carried out through three bureaus within the division: Licensing, Auditing and Enforcement.
Electronic cigarettes containing nicotine from tobacco leaves are tobacco products regulated in the state of Florida. It is unlawful to sale tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, to a person under 18 years of age. Section 569.101, Florida Statutes, provides that the sell of tobacco products to a person under 18 years of age is a criminal offense subjecting you to criminal penalties and administrative action.
The statutory language is set forth below:
569.101 Selling, delivering, bartering, furnishing, or giving tobacco products to persons under 18 years of age; criminal penalties; defense.—
(1)It is unlawful to sell, deliver, barter, furnish, or give, directly or indirectly, to any person who is under 18 years of age, any tobacco product.
(2)Any person who violates subsection (1) commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. However, any person who violates subsection (1) for a second or subsequent time within 1 year of the first violation, commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
TIED HOUSE EVIL
The Department of Business & Professional Regulation, Division of Alcoholic Beverages & Tobacco, is informing the alcoholic beverage industry, and those doing business with members of the industry that the Division has investigated and continues to investigate alleged violations of Florida’s Tied House Law, Section 561.42, Florida Statutes. These investigations have led to administrative action by the Division regarding transactions between licensed wholesale distributors and licensed retail vendors (restaurants, bars, etc.) for unlawful compensation, either directly or indirectly through third party marketing companies, in violation of Section 561.42, Florida Statutes, and the rules implementing this statute.
As a result of the Division’s ongoing investigations and administrative action, certain industry members are adhering to, and the Division has approved, the following set of guidelines in a cooperative effort to cease any further potential unlawful activity generated through marketing companies:
- A distributor, manufacturer, their agent, or marketing company shall not pay a retail vendor to place its brands in the retail vendor’s business.
- A retail vendor, their agent, or marketing company shall not accept any payment from a distributor, manufacturer, or their agent or marketing company for the purchase of any distributors or manufacturers brands.
- A marketing company shall not provide things of value or perform services paid for by the distributor or manufacturer that benefit a retail vendor which cannot be performed legally by the distributor.
Wholesale distributors are requiring signed compliance certifications from all alcoholic beverage marketing companies that incorporate the above guidelines and certifying that they have no ownership interest in any retail vendor licensed to sell alcoholic beverages in the State of Florida before any marketing or promotional services may be performed.
All distributors and retail vendors must comply with all Florida Beverage Laws, specifically Section 561.42, Florida Statutes, and the related tied House rules implementing this statute http://www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/abt/Laws.html. Utilization of marketing companies in any manner which fails to comply will result in the initiation of administrative proceedings against both licensed distributors and retail vendors pursuant to Section 561.29(1)(k), Florida Statutes. To that end, the Division’s wholesale compliance audits will include an increased focus on potential tied house evil violations and third party marketing agreements.
Alcoholic Beverage Sales at Special Events
A current Alcoholic Beverage license holder may request to temporarily extend their license premises outside of the current sketch on file with the Division. The dates of the special event must be consecutive.
- Provide the dates of the event on the application (more than one event can be requested on the same application if the sketch of the temporary extension is the same for all events).
- Obtain zoning approval
- Notarized statement “Affidavit of Applicant” by a licensee of record
- Draw a sketch of the full premises to be licensed, original licensed premises plus the area for the temporary extension
The application should be submitted with a $100 check or money order for each event to the district office serving your area of interest. A list of the Division’s Licensing District Offices can be found at:
The application will be reviewed within seven (7) days of receipt and if there are no deficiencies the permit will be issued. The division will notify the applicant in writing of any deficiencies. The applicant may also schedule an appointment with the district office and if there are no deficiencies the permit will be issued at the appointment.
A bona-fide non-profit civic organization may request a One-Two-Three day permit to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on premises for a period not to exceed 3 days per event. The non-profit organizations are limited to 3 permits per calendar year with the exception of cities or counties that have a special act which would allow them to have additional permits upon meeting specific requirements.
Cities/Counties with a Special Act are:
- HB-1445- City of Tallahassee
- HB-1407 City of St. Petersburg
- HB 1169 - City of Leesburg
- HB-1049- City of Eustis
- HB-1051 -City of Tavares
- HB-1307- City of Mount Dora
- Provide the dates of the event on the application (more than one event can be requested on the same application if the location and sketch of the premises are the same for all events).
- Obtain zoning approval
- Obtain Sales Tax approval from the Department of Revenue
- Draw a sketch of the full premises to be licensed
- Notarized statement “Affidavit of Applicant” by an authorized member of the non-profit civic organization
- Submit corporate registration and proof of non-profit status
The application should be submitted with a $25 check or money order for each event to the district office serving your area of interest. A list of the Division’s Licensing District Offices can be found at:
The application will be reviewed within seven (7) days of receipt and if there are no deficiencies the permit(s) will be issued. The division will notify the applicant in writing of any deficiencies. The applicant may also schedule an appointment with the district office and if there are no deficiencies the permit will be issued at the appointment.
Florida’s Beverage Law is contained in chapters 561, 562, 563, 564, 565, 567, and 568, Florida Statutes. In 2005, a federal court held that it is unconstitutional for Florida to prohibit the direct shipment of wine by out-of-state wineries while at the same time authorizing the direct shipment of wine by in-state producers. The remainder of the Florida Beverage Law, however, continues to apply to the sale of alcoholic beverages, including the direct shipment of wine by both in-state and out-of-state wineries.
The following paragraphs highlight several of those sections of law. However, you should be aware that these paragraphs are not intended to provide you with an exhaustive summary of the Beverage Law. You should refer to the statutes themselves, as well as the Department’s rules, in order to familiarize yourself with the entirety of Florida’s Beverage Law, including the full range of penalties for noncompliance.
Florida’s Three-Tier Alcoholic Beverage Licensing Structure
Florida’s Beverage Law makes it a second degree misdemeanor to manufacture, bottle, distribute, sell, or in any way deal in alcoholic beverages without first obtaining a license from the State. Section 562.12, Florida Statutes.
Florida’s three-tier system provides that licensees may only hold licenses within one tier of the system, either as a manufacturer, distributor, or vendor, although Florida law permits Florida wineries to hold a license in more than one tier. Section 561.14, Florida Statutes, provides that manufacturers of alcoholic beverages must be licensed as manufacturers. Distributors must be licensed and may purchase alcoholic beverages from manufacturers to sell to retail vendors only. A retail vendor must be licensed and may sell alcoholic beverages to consumers 21 years of age or older.
Florida’s Beverage Law prohibits any person from holding a license at any tier if he or she “has been convicted within the last past 5 years of any offense against the beverage laws of this state, the United States, or any other state; who has been convicted within the last past 5 years in this state or any other state or the United States of soliciting for prostitution, pandering, letting premises for prostitution, or keeping a disorderly place or of any criminal violation of chapter 893 or the controlled substance act of any other state or the Federal Government; or who has been convicted in the last past 15 years of any felony in this state or any other state or the United States ….” Section 561.15, Florida Statutes. That same prohibition applies to a corporation where any of its officers have been convicted of any of the offenses listed above.
General Prohibitions Regarding Selling or Serving Alcohol
Florida’s Beverage law provides that 'sale’ and ‘sell’ mean any transfer of an alcoholic beverage for consideration, any gift of an alcoholic beverage in connection with, or as a part of, a transfer of property other than an alcoholic beverage for a consideration, or the serving of an alcoholic beverage by a club licensed under the Beverage Law.” Section 561.01, Florida Statutes.
Florida’s legal drinking age is 21, and Florida’s Beverage Law makes it “unlawful for any person to sell, give, serve, or permit to be served alcoholic beverages to a person under 21 years of age ….” Section 562.11, Florida Statutes.
It is illegal to sell alcoholic beverages without a license or, in the case of licensees, to sell alcoholic beverages except as permitted by his or her license. Section 562.12, Florida Statutes. It is also illegal to sell any intoxicating liquors, wines, or beer in any county that has voted against the sale of such beverages. Section 568.02, Florida Statutes.
Prohibitions and Penalties for Failure to Comply with Florida’s Excise Tax
Florida’s Beverage Law prohibits the ownership, possession, purchase, sale, serving, distribution or storage of any alcoholic beverage within the State unless the required excise tax has been paid on the beverage. Sections 562.01 and 562.15, Florida Statutes.
Florida’s Beverage Law provides a number of penalties for possession of alcoholic beverages on which no excise tax has been paid. First, possession of any alcoholic beverage on which tax has not been paid constitutes prima facie evidence that the beverage is being manufactured, sold, removed or concealed with design to evade payment of the excise tax. Section 562.30, Florida Statutes. The only exceptions made are for: licensed manufacturers or distributors, state bonded warehouses, and common carriers.
Second, in addition to any other fines and penalties, Florida’s Beverage Law imposes personal liability on any person or corporation in possession of any such alcoholic beverages. Section 562.16, Florida Statutes. The only exceptions made are for: licensed manufacturers and distributors, state bonded warehouses, common carriers, and persons in possession of less than one gallon of such beverages as long as the beverages were purchased by that person outside of Florida in accordance with the laws of the place of purchase.
Finally, the willful violation of any provision of Florida’s Beverage Law concerning the excise tax constitutes a felony of the third degree. Section 562.45, Florida Statutes.
“ROLL YOUR OWN” CIGARETTE MACHINES
On August 20, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a decision in RYO Machine Rental, LLC v. TTB, No. 11-3163, vacating a lower court’s injunction related to TTB’s enforcement of its ruling that determined retailers who made cigarette-making machines available for the use of their customers in making cigarettes to be “manufacturers of tobacco products.”
Under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (Public Law No. 112-14.1) ("MAP-21"), any person who for commercial purposes makes available for consumer use a machine capable of making tobacco products (including cigarettes) is a manufacturer of tobacco products.
According to the ruling, it is against the law to manufacture tobacco products without a permit. Anyone manufacturing tobacco products without a permit risks civil and/or criminal liability. For additional information, please see Frequently Asked Questions about "Roll-Your-Own Cigarette Machines" and Other Machines for Making Tobacco Products. http://www.ttb.gov/faqs/tobacco_ryo_machine.shtml
The United States Department of Treasury, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) issued TTB Ruling Number 2010-4, dated September 30, 2010. This ruling found that those using these machines in retail establishments are defined as manufacturers under the Internal Revenue Code and must obtain the appropriate federal permit. Florida law provides that anyone who holds the federal permit referenced above is a manufacturer (Florida Definition; manufacturer)
Anyone with specific questions concerning their planned business model should consider submitting a Petition for Declaratory Statement to the Department as permitted under Florida Statutes, (Declaratory Statements)
The list below includes links to several provisions in law that individuals may wish to study before making any decisions about engaging in a business using these machines.
FS 210.01 (7),(18),(19),(21)
FS 210.02 (1),(6)
FS 210.04 (5),(6),(9)
FS 210.06 (1),(3)
FS 210.09 (1)(a),(4)(a)
FS 210.011 (1),(6)
FS 210.15 (1)(h),(2)
FS 210.185 (1)
Additionally, knowledge of pertinent parts of FS 633.042, Reduced Cigarette Ignition Propensity Standard and Firefighter Protection Act is suggested.
This information is intended for guidance only. Each situation may vary, and the Department does not represent that the above information is uniformly applicable. It may be wise to seek knowledgeable, professional counsel when considering whether to engage in an enterprise using these machines.
PREVENTION / AWARENESS RESOURCES, NEWS AND INFORMATION
Tax Stamp Violation Reporting (Call 1-866-540-PUFS)
Help stop the sale/possession of illegal cigarettes in Florida. For more information on the PUFS program click here.
SUDS: Stop Underage Drinking and Sales
To report any violations of state laws pertaining to alcohol or tobacco sales, please call toll free 1.866.540.SUDS (7837).
BECOME AN INVESTIGATIVE AIDE
The Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco is currently seeking volunteer investigative aides. For more information regarding this program, see our Become an Investigative Aide brochure.