Any plans that tobacco retailers might have to expand into Philadelphia’s residential areas probably have gone up in smoke in light of the city'snew sales restrictions.
The city’s Board of Health unanimously decided late last week to limite the number of retail permits for tobacco sellers based on commuter census figures, not residential population.
Starting Feb. 15, one sales permit per 1,000 people will be available, which means that due to the influx of workers in Center City, that area will have a greater number of retailers than in residential neighborhoods.
“It seemed appropriate from a business perspective, and we saw also that there was some public health benefit, too,” Health Commissioner Thomas A. Farley said.
Another change announced prohibits new permits from being issued to retailers within 500 feet of schools. This will go into effect on Jan. 1.
Stores already selling in these zones are grandfathered in, but will be unable to transfer their current permits. However, specialty sellers,like cigar shopswho want to sell their store, can apply for a one-time transfer within the first 180 days of 2017.
The new restrictions also include raising the permit fee to $300 from $50 to subsidize tobacco-sales enforcement, as well as the loss of a permit for one year for sellers who have three underage sales violations within a two-year period.