One of Mayor Nutter’s Last Proposals Is Probably Already Dead

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter walks down a blocked off Market Street, with City Hall in the background, in Philadelphia on Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, before Pope Francis' trip. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter walks down Market Street, with City Hall in the background. | Photo by Mel Evans/Associated Press

Mayor Michael Nutter has two short months left in office to shape his legacy in the minds of Philadelphians.

Councilwoman Marian Tasco introduced a bill earlier this month on the mayor’s behalf that, if it passes, could easily make an appearance in future news articles about Nutter’s strikingly successful efforts to lower the city’s smoking rate. The legislation would bar cigarette sales in drug stores, a natural last move for an elected official who signed a cigarette tax into law, prohibited smoking in local parks, and helped push through a citywide smoking ban in bars and restaurants.

Just a couple weeks after the drug store proposal was introduced, though, it looks as if it’s already dead. Read more »

Pa. Bill Would Raise Minimum Age for Tobacco Purchase to 21

Vanessa Lowery Brown introduces bill that raises smoking age to 21

If you’re a tobacco user in Pennsylvania between the ages of 18 to 20, here’s some advice: Smoke ’em while you got ’em.

State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown yesterday introduced House Bill 1628, which would raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21. Currently, the age is 18.

“Studies show that the vast majority of those who smoke daily began before the age of 19,” Brown said in a statement. “Restricting access to tobacco products until age 21 should lower the smoking rate in the commonwealth.” Brown represents the 190th legislative district in Pennsylvania, which includes sections of Powelton, Mantua, Parkside, Mill Creek, Fairmount Park and other parts of West Philadelphia.

Earlier this year, Hawaii became the first state to raise the minimum age for tobacco purchases to 21. When Hawaii’s law goes into effect on January 1st, stores in Hawaii selling tobacco to people 20 or younger will be subject to a $500 fine for a first offense. Penalties rise for subsequent violations. Those under 21 caught with tobacco products will be subject to a $10 fine for a first offense, and a $50 fine for subsequent offenses. Electronic cigarettes and vape pens were included in Hawaii’s law. Read more »

This Bill Would Ban Cigarette Sales In Drug Stores

Mayor Michael Nutter wants to prohibit cigarette sales in drug stores throughout Philadelphia, in hopes of persuading more smokers to kick the habit.

Councilwoman Marian Tasco introduced a bill on behalf of the Nutter administration Thursday that would ban the sale of tobacco products in any establishments that offer “health services,” including stores that sell pharmaceutical drugs.

Mark McDonald, a spokesman for Nutter, said the bill could reduce tobacco sales in the city by 6 percent.  Read more »

How Philly’s Plummeting Smoking Rate Could Harm Schools

1. Maybe you shouldn’t quit smoking … for the kids. (We kid, we kid.)

The gist: Today, Philadelphia’s new cigarette tax is bringing in the bucks for the city’s schools. The Inquirer reported that in its first nine months, the tax raised $50 million for the school district — which is almost exactly what officials had predicted. During the budget year that just began this July, the tax is expected to reap $60 million. “After that, however, the tax will bring decreasing amounts, according to state and school district officials,” wrote the Inky’s Claudia Vargas. “They expect cigarette sales to decrease by 7 percent in 2016-17 and even more after that.”

Read more »

Mayor Nutter Reminds Citizens Not to Smoke Anything in Parks

Mayor Michael Nutter signed Philadelphia’s new marijuana policy into effect earlier this week. Though it won’t start until October 20th, the mayor tweeted this morning to remind everyone that smoking in public is still illegal.

And, well, that smoking anything in a public park is illegal, too.

Read more »

Bill That Approved Cigarette Tax Guarantees More Charter Schools in Philadelphia


Philadelphians exhaled last week when the Pennsylvania House approved a $2-a-pack cigarette tax increase in the city, a move expected to generate up to $170 million. Without that extra money, the district’s schools faced drastic cuts in October. No one was really happy about it. When it looked as if the bill would pass this summer, Newsworks’ Dave Davies wrote the legislative victory was “spectacularly depressing” — but at least it’s a solution for this school year.

It’s not like House Republicans suddenly changed their mind on a cigarette tax that was declared dead in late June and delayed again this July for nothing. A report in the Inquirer this summer detailed the reason many House GOP members flipped: An amendment in the cigarette tax bill allows charter school applicants rejected or ignored by the School Reform Commission a second chance with the state Charter Appeals Board. Previously, they had no avenue to appeal. (See the final version of HB 1177 below; it contains both the cigarette tax language and the charter appeal process.)

Read more »

Penn Professors: School Must Divest from Tobacco


In an open letter to the University posted on, five Penn professors urge the school to stop investing in companies that sell tobacco products.

The professors — Peter Conn, Chris Feudtner, Paul N. Lanken, Diana Robertson and Michael Weisberg — go through the obvious arguments about tobacco and cigarette smoking’s health effects and also note that most school’s of Penn’s size and reputation have divested their endowments from holdings in tobacco companies. Harvard did it in 1990!

Read more »

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