Council Hearings on Tobacco Retailer Regulations

Health Commissioner Tom Farley will oppose the bill. He doesn’t buy the rationale.
“There was a Wawa that opened up that was above the cap, and so they didn’t get a permit. And I went and visited it and the store was absolutely thriving,” he said. “It was packed with customers and (had) a long line at the cash registers, so these stores can do quite well without selling the No. 1 cause of death in Philadelphia.”
Farley noted that cigarette sales total only a fraction of the business of stores with permits, and the bill would have a hugely negative health impact, especially in low-income neighborhoods where the density of cigarette sales is highest.

By Pat Loeb

On Wednesday, Council voted against a bill that aimed to reverse some of those regulations. The measure would have allowed a tobacco retail permit to be transferred to a new owner even if a store was near a school or exceeded the cap on the number of retailers in the area.

“We’re grateful that the City Council supported the Board of Health’s action to protect Philadelphia’s children from the marketing of the nation’s biggest killer, tobacco,” said Health Commissioner Thomas Farley.

The goal of the original regulations was to curb youth smoking, a particularly big problem for Philadelphia, where more than a quarter of youths use tobacco. Although rates of cigarette smoking have dropped here as in much of the country, rates of cigar and e-cigarette use are climbing.

By Aneri Pattani

On the other side were numerous health organizations, parents and Health Commissioner Tom Farley, who said the rule is already working to reduce the number of cigarette retailers in low-income neighborhoods, where there are three times as many tobacco sellers as in other neighborhoods.
“Researchers have shown that children living in neighborhoods with more tobacco sellers are significantly more likely to start smoking, and adult smokers in those neighborhoods are less likely to quit,” Farley said.

By Pat Loeb

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