This Bill Would Ban Cigarette Sales In Drug Stores

Mayor Nutter thinks the proposal would convince people to quit smoking.

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. 

If Nutter persuaded Council to OK the proposal, that would be one of his last major accomplishments as mayor. And that makes a lot of sense. Nutter has made lowering the city’s smoking rate a priority throughout his tenure. He advocated for the cigarette tax, which became law last year. He signed an executive order that banned smoking in city parks. And as a Councilman, he successfully pushed through Philly’s smoking ban in restaurants, bars and other establishments.

All that has paid off: Between 2008 and 2014, the percentage of smoking adults in the city fell from 27.3 percent to 22.4 percent.

Council President Darrell Clarke told the Philadelphia Daily News that he is unsure whether the city can legally prohibit cigarette sales, however. The Nutter administration argues that a ban is permitted under the city charter. Another potential downside of the proposal is that it could lead to a plunge in cigarette tax revenues. Those dollars are used to help fund the cash-strapped school district.