New year means new tobacco regulations in Philadelphia

- New provisions to reduce children’s exposure to tobacco products go into effect in Philadelphia on Sunday, Jan. 1.

Also, there will be stepped-up enforcement of laws against illegal tobacco sales to underage people.

These new regulations were approved by the Philadelphia Board of Health on Dec. 8.

-- No new tobacco retailer permits will be issued within 500 feet of any K-12 school. That’s a tobacco-free school zone of about two blocks.

-- There will be tougher enforcement on the prohibition of sales to children. The tobacco retailer permit fee will go up to $300 to cover the costs of enhanced compliance checks.

-- The penalty for youth sales violations will be standardized. Retailers with three youth sales violations in two years will have their tobacco sales permits suspended for 12 months.

Later, effect Feb. 15, there will be a tobacco retailer density cap. There will only be one tobacco retailer permit allowed per 1,000 people in each planning district.

The city’s Department of Public Health says similar measures elsewhere decreased the risk of youth smoking and made it easier for established smokers to quit.

The rules are also meant to decrease disparities in tobacco retailer density among neighborhoods.

“Low income neighborhoods have more stores selling cigarettes, more point-of-sale advertising of tobacco products, and more tobacco retailers near schools than other neighborhoods,” said Dr. Cheryl Bettigole, Director of the health department Division of Chronic Disease Prevention. “These new regulations are aimed at protecting children in these neighborhoods from this marketing.”

The health department sent letters informing retailers about the new rules, among other notifications.

Click here for more about the Department of Public Health’s tobacco-free communities efforts.

Also, Philadelphians trying to quit smoking can get free coaching and quit-smoking medications by calling 1-800-QUIT NOW (774-8669).

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