Tobacco retailers are fuming after City Council passed a bill yesterday requiring them to obtain permits to sell tobacco and other products containing nicotine.
The bill, which Mayor Nutter is expected to sign, mandates that tobacco retailers get a $50 permit from the Health Department in addition to the city business-privilege license and the cigarette-retailer license that vendors must acquire from the state Revenue Department.
This latest measure will give the city a list of Philadelphia's tobacco retailers to ensure that they are following the law.
"We've had problems with these small stores, neighborhood stores, selling loose cigarettes and selling these cigarettes and tobacco to young people," said Councilwoman Marian Tasco, who introduced the bill.
Tobacco retailers must renew the permit 60 days before the expiration date or face payments, including a renewal fee and a new application fee.
"It's already rough because we already pay lots of taxes on cigarettes . . . what's next?" asked John Ananikyan, owner of Smokin Stogies n' Stuff, on 18th Street near Chestnut. "I just paid $50 to renew my tobacco license."
Last year, Council passed legislation that increased the fine for retailers who sell to minors from $100 to $250 per incident.
The city Health Department conducts investigations of sales to minors and, for the last five years, 20 percent of those investigations turned up illegal sales, said Giridhar Mallya, director of policy and planning for the Health Department.
He said that Philly has among the highest rates of youth smokers, with 11 percent of young people having smoked once in the past 30 days.
Staff writer Anjali Tsui contributed to this report