City Council hearing attempts to roll back anti-smoking regulations

Pat Loeb
December 05, 2018 - 4:00 am
A view of cigarettes and other tobacco products on sale behind the counter at a CVS/Pharmacy store.

© Anthony Behar/Sipa USA


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A City Council committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on a bill that would reverse anti-smoking regulations, which council once praised. 

The Board of Health adopted regulations in 2016 limiting the number of new tobacco sale permits, especially around schools, so as stores selling cigarettes changed hands, some could not get new permits. 

Councilman Mark Squilla said that hurt the value of the businesses, so he introduced a bill to gut the 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.