Philadelphia’s tougher regulation of tobacco sales expected to start Jan. 1

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 Mayor Jim Kenney, who once smoked, shows how his 1-year-old made him stop cold turkey.

Mayor Jim Kenney, who once smoked, shows how his 1-year-old made him stop cold turkey. "He had a crayon in his hand, and he mimicked me," says the mayor. "I put out that cigarette and never picked up one again." (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

The city of Philadelphia is planning to tighten rules governing tobacco sales as a means of keeping cigarettes away from children.  While existing retailers will be “grandfathered,” the regulation would make it much harder to open a new outlet for selling tobacco in the city.

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said Wednesday the regulations will not change anything for existing retailers.  But when a store is sold, a new owner will have to comply with rules designed to restrict the availability of cigarettes.”We want to protect our children from becoming addicted to tobacco, which means protecting them from the marketing of the tobacco industry,” he said.

Farley said the regulations should take effect in January.The rules would bar new stores within 500 feet of a school and could prohibit new permits in neighborhoods where many outlets already sell tobacco products.Mayor Jim Kenney, an ex-smoker, said cutting down on the number of retailers will help stop young people from picking up the habit.”Low-income neighborhoods have many more stores selling cigarettes than high-income neighborhoods. And in those low-income neighborhoods, many tobacco retailers are right next schools,” Kenney said. “Some tobacco retailers continue to sell to children even though it’s against the law.”The rules also call for revoking licenses for any shop found to be selling to minors three times.The goal is to help the younger generation from ever lighting up, said Donna Cooper of Public Citizens for Children and Youth.”That they don’t suffer the disease that the baby boomers, unfortunately, carry into their graying years,” she said of the intention behind the legislation. “And that they grow up so much healthier than we did, because that is our job, to leave the next generation healthier than this generation.”The National Organization of Tobacco Outlets did not respond to a request for comment, but it has  previously stated its opposition to the stricter regulation.  Such rules, it has said, would stifle economic development in Philadelphia.

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