New regulations aimed at curtailing the high number of tobacco retailers in low-income neighborhoods, particularly those near schools, were approved Thursday night by the Philadelphia Board of Health.
The regulations, designed to reduce tobacco use and discourage children from picking up the habit, include:
Suspending tobacco sales permits - for 12 months - to retailers who are cited three times in two years for selling to minors. (In 2015, 23 percent of the city's tobacco retailers sold to youth, according to department data.)
Banning new tobacco retailer permits within 500 feet of K-12 schools.
"Children on their way to school should not be bombarded with advertisements enticing them to start smoking," said Thomas A. Farley, commissioner for the city Department of Public Health.
The new rules will limit permits to one retailer per 1,000 residents. The city's overall tobacco retailer density is more than twice that, and even higher in some areas. It is substantially higher than other major cities, city health officials said.
According to Health Department data, there are 69 percent more tobacco retailers in the city's low-income neighborhoods than in high-income areas.
The new rules are open to public comment and request for a hearing. The density limits will not apply to existing permit holders. The rules will go into effect later in the year, officials said.