Removal of Tobacco Licenses


PHILADELPHIA–The Philadelphia Department of Public Health announced that 149 stores that have been selling tobacco products are not eligible to renew their tobacco sales permits in 2020, due to repeated violations of City regulations against selling tobacco products to minors. This number represents 6% of tobacco sales permits in Philadelphia. Many of the stores that are losing their permits are concentrated in poor, minority neighborhoods in North, West, and Southwest Philadelphia. (See attached map and table.)


“The number one killer in Philadelphia continues to be tobacco,” Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said. “Many people suffering from tobacco addiction got hooked when a store clerk flouted the law and sold a child a pack of cigarettes, cigarillos, or an e-cigarette. Stores that repeatedly sell tobacco products to kids are a clear danger to our neighborhoods. Today’s announcement shows that we’re taking this danger seriously and protecting Philadelphia’s kids.”

By Max Bennett


“This is a sign that the city is serious about protecting our kids from these killer, addictive products,” Farley said. “Stores that have been selling cigarettes to children over the years are going to be discovered in the future, and they’re going to lose their tobacco sales privileges if they continue to do this.”

By Rita Giordano

Philly Tribune

The health department randomly checks compliance with the regulations by sending teenagers into stores to attempt to buy tobacco products. Businesses sell minors tobacco products during these test visits 25% to 30% of the time, Farley said. A violation results in a city fine.

By Michael D’Onofrio


Health Commissioner Tom Farley said the stores were caught selling cigarettes to teenagers under 18 three or more times in the last two years, so their applications to continue selling cigarettes this year were denied.

Philadelphia has more tobacco outlets than other large cities — 2,600 still have permits. Farley said one of the goals of the new permits rules is to reduce the concentration “in low-income, minority neighborhoods.”

By Pat Loeb


“We hope that this action today will send a message to the other stores in the city that we’re serious. If they continue to sell to kids, they’re going to lose their tobacco sales privileges,” Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said.

Farley says the city has taken action against 149 stores caught selling tobacco to kids three or more times in the past two years.

By Stephanie Stahl


By the time licenses were up for renewal in January 2019, four stores had reached the threshold. This year, 149 reached it.

To catch violators, the city sends young mystery shoppers to retailers to try to buy cigarettes. The city partners with the nonprofit Health Promotion Council to recruit and pay teen shoppers between 15 and 17, all of whom attempt to buy cigarettes. The teens are accompanied by adult chaperones.

By Nina Feldman


Over 149 stores in Philly that have accrued repeated violations of city laws by selling tobacco products to minors have been forbidden from renewing their tobacco sales permits in 2020. This follows a crackdown on legislation launched in 2017 that if a store sold to minors three or more times within the past two years, they would not be able to renew their sales permits.

By Becca Glasser-Baker


This is the first big action taken stemming from a 2017 law saying that any Philadelphia business selling tobacco to teens three or more times in two years would lose their license.

In 2019, four stores were cited. This time around? 149.

The health department says all stores were caught during compliance checks, where teens ask to buy tobacco.

By Bob Brooks

The Philly Voice

In their statement, the city health officials also mentioned that many of the stores losing permits are concentrated in “poor, minority neighborhoods, in North, West, and Southwest Philadelphia,” and included the following map demonstrating where busts occurred.

By Allie Miller

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