Being released from prison is undeniably a euphoric moment for any kind of person. However, getting out of prison is not the end goal nor does it mean that there will be no other challenges thereafter. In fact, it is just the beginning of everything.
As cliche as it may sound, but it is the beginning of a new chapter of your life. Plus, the saying goes that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
To help you make that single step, there is literally a lot of guidance and instructions out there to help you. If you are doubting whether or not you can actually land a job because of your past history, do not.
There are a lot of people who were in your shoes before but actually managed to land jobs. In fact, they are more than happy to be where they are now. So, cheer up and there is a better tomorrow.
Although there are some employers who are skeptical about hiring people with a history of crimes and who got convicted, the other side of the coin also exists. A lot of employers have found out that people who have had a history of crime actually do make good employees.
However, it is important to note that these hired felons were working in a profession that was completely different from what they have before getting convicted.
To help in your job-seeking quest, we will be talking about whether or not felons can actually acquire tobacco licenses in this article.
What is a tobacco license?
When you hear the term tobacco license, you might be thinking that it is something similar to a gun license. Some sort of proof or symbol that you are legally allowed to possess and use tobacco.
Actually, that is not what it is about. In reality, possessing a tobacco license means that the individual may legally sell, import, or manufacture cigarettes, as well as other tobacco products. A tobacco license is actually a business license.
Can I not just sell tobacco whenever I want?
The answer to that is probably. Technically, nobody can stop you from selling cigarettes and other tobacco products if you really wish to do this. However, that does not mean it is legal. By now, you should know about the consequences of going against the law. In fact, you have just experienced it.
That is where the tobacco license comes in. It is not just some sort of paraphernalia or decoration. It is an important tool in order to operate a possibly lavish business.
How can I get a tobacco license?
A tobacco license can actually be granted by multiple government entities. It can be granted by the local, state, or federal authorities. It just all depends on the location as to where you plan to erect your business, as well as how do you plan to utilize your tobacco-related business.
However, no matter who issues your license, you can only obtain it from the Alcohol & Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau or also known as (TTB).
As such it is important to note that there are multiple types of tobacco licenses. Needless to say, the limitations of the license vary depending on its type. Here are the different kinds of licenses and what their limitations are.
- Retail – Getting a license to retail allows a business to sell cigarettes and other tobacco products. The business can directly sell towards the public as long as they remain within a specified retail location. This also includes cigarette vending machines.
- Manufacturer – A manufacturing license allows a business or an individual to legally process and create various tobacco products, including cigarettes, from raw materials such as tobacco.
- Wholesaler – A wholesaler license will allow an entity to sell tobacco-related products to retailers who will then resell the products to the public.
- Importer / Exporter – An importer or an exporter license allows a business or corporation to move raw or processed tobacco. They are legally allowed to import and / or export tobacco products into and / or out of the United States as long as they follow the set rules and regulations.
After getting a tobacco license, it is also important to take note of different responsibilities that accompany that license. These responsibilities include:
- Ensuring that the license is displayed for everybody to see
- Ensuring that the purchase invoices for cigarettes and other tobacco products are maintained for four years
- Ensuring the safekeeping of all invoices on the location indicated on the license for the initial year upon purchase
- Allowing board staff or law enforcement agencies to access and review said invoices upon request
- Ensure that all record-keeping requirements which are related to purchasing or manufacturing cigarettes and other tobacco products are constantly met
What is a business license?
We have previously stated that a tobacco license is actually a business license, but what exactly is a business license? Although tobacco licenses are business licenses, that does not generally mean that all business licenses are tobacco licenses. It is the same as all chickens are animals, but not all animals are chickens.
Most, if not all, types of businesses require some sort of license to operate. These licenses can only be issued by federal or state agencies. Those businesses that require a license before being allowed to operate depends on the type of business, the location as to where the business operates, and the laws that are being enacted in the state where the business is located.
A federal license is needed if your business or planned business will do any activity that is regulated by a federal agency. These businesses are those in agriculture, alcohol, and firearms.
A state license actually also depends on what kind of business you operate and where your business is located. Businesses that need to obtain state licenses include construction, restaurants, and some retail operations.
As such, we highly recommend that you contact the state as to where you plan on starting a business in order to comprehend and understand all the particular licensing requirements for your business. This is an important step in order to ensure that your business will run without any problem.
Here are some reasons why a business license is necessary.
- In order to identify a business and hold accountability for its operation
- In order to ensure and protect the public’s health and safety
- In order to easily audit finances for tax purposes
It is very important to maintain the type of license your business needs in order to prevent getting any kind of penalty and to protect your business. If you do not have a license, your business will likely meet penalties or even be forced to close down.
Therefore, Can a Felon Get A Tobacco License?
Under normal circumstances, a history of committing a felony should not impede someone from applying and obtaining a business license.
However, it is important to note that most applications would ask the applicant to provide details and reason as to why the crime was committed and regarding the conviction.
After this, it is up to the licensing authority to conduct their own investigations regarding this offense. The results from this investigation will then be used as the basis when deciding whether or not a tobacco license will be issued to you.
As long as you have remained honest and your crime is not really related to tobacco, let us say selling some tobacco products to minors, then there should not be any problems and you will most probably be issued a license.
It is of the utmost importance to remain honest when applying for a tobacco license. A felon must honestly report the details of his conviction. If you withhold any detail or conviction and it was later found out, you may as well bid farewell to freedom and go back to where you came from.
It is already a challenge for felons to face the stigma that felons are all dishonest and untrustworthy individuals. Do not let this stigma worsen your already dire situation. If you are not certain as to how to proceed with getting your license, then it is advised to contact an attorney to get some valid legal advice.
If you can, the option of expunging your crimes will highly increase your chances of obtaining a tobacco record. This will allow you to honestly state that you are clear of any convicted crimes.
So what should I do?
Getting a tobacco license is definitely not easy. However, it may actually be useful in the long run if you do acquire one. If your dream or your skillset somehow falls into this industry, then the first thing you should be thinking about is getting your hands on that tobacco license.
In addition to that, you may do well to consider getting your records expunged in order to increase your chances of success.
In addition to that, may also prove helpful to document any programs, education, or training you have completed. All of these steps are good ways for you to provide a good sense and proof that you indeed have a good moral character.
Of course, the support of your family, friends, and even your past bosses are tantamount to none. We do understand that what you are going through is nowhere near easy, and it would be very much appreciated to get all the support that you need.
After all, your past mistakes do not define your entire person. Those were simply some hurdles you have failed to overcome in the past.
However, that does not mean that you will fall again. It may be a long and very frustrating journey, but always remember why you are doing this in the first place. Always remind yourself about this and you will be able to get your hands on that very much wanted tobacco license.
Read also: Can a Felon Become a Welder?.
Robert Gomez was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. He currently lives in Northern California with “the wifey,” “the kids,” “the dog,” and “that cat,” 🙁 He is also a former journalist who has interviewed murderers on death row. Felonyfriendlyjobs.org was born to help ex-felons get a second chance in life.