Philadelphia's new health regulations aimed at cutting the number of tobacco sellers in low-income neighborhoods and within 500 feet of schools moved a bit closer to the finishing line with Monday night's Board of Health public hearing.
Some businessmen spoke against parts of new rules that were passed last month but have not yet gone into effect. Several residents and health advocates voiced their support for the new rules.
But the fireworks that likely would have met such an effort in the past were absent Monday.
Alan Karpo, owner of Second Street Wholesalers, 102 N. Second St., asked the board to consider changing the rule that will not allow him to transfer his tobacco permit if he decides to sell his business. Without that, said Karpo, his business loses much of its value.
Ilycia Boatwright-Buffalo, 18, said she supported the new rules.
"I will 100 percent support what these bills stand for," said the Cheyney University student.
As a younger teen, she worked for the city enforcement effort, posing as an underage cigarette buyer. The advertising did not specifically target teenagers, "but we all know who they are going for," she said.
Community activist Jesse W. Brown spoke in favor of the rules and asked the board to add a provision that would bar sales of menthol cigarettes within 500 of establishments that cater to youth, as well as schools.
The new rules, most of which will go into effect early in January, will limit new tobacco-product sales permits to one seller per 1,000 residents in any community planning district, compared with the high concentrations now in some areas, particularly low-income neighborhoods.
In addition, new permits will only be issued to sellers more than 500 feet from a school. The permit fees will raise from $50 to $300 to help fund enforcement efforts.
Businesses that get caught selling to underage buyers three times in two years will lose their permits for a year. They will not be able to get them back if their businesses exceed the density limits or are too close to a school.
Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said the board will be able to consider the comments at its next board meeting on Nov. 10.