What to Know
- Philadelphia legislators are trying to pass a measure that would restrict e-cigarette sales.
- Under the proposal, sales of certain products would be restricted to adults-only stores that require customers to be at least 18 years-old.
- The measure was introduced against a backdrop of multiple deaths and a federal warning about the dangers of electronic cigarettes.
In an effort to curb youth vaping, Philadelphia businesses could be required to get a special license to sell electronic cigarettes.
The amendment to the city's business code would establish "electronic smoking device" licenses and restrict them to adults-only stores. Businesses without an "adults-only ESD establishment" license would be barred from selling e-cigarettes, and only those with such a license would be allowed to sell e-cigs with flavors other than tobacco.
At a hearing to discuss the proposal Wednesday, Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley emphasized the prevalence of flavored e-cigarettes, including those with the flavor of menthol, among youths who vape.
"Restricting the sale of flavored products would be a major step forward in reducing the number of children who become addicted to nicotine," Farley said.
The proposal would require businesses to prevent entry to anyone under 18 years old, as well as to hold a valid tobacco retailer permit, if they wish to get an ESD license and sell vaping products. The bill would limit the sale of e-cigarettes with more than 20 mg/ml of nicotine salts, and the city's Department of Public Health would renew business' ESD licenses on an annual basis.
Violators would be fined $250, and every day that they're out of compliance would constitute a new offense.
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Council President Darrell Clarke, as well as council members Cindy Bass, William Greenlee and Curtis Jones sponsored the legislation.
Opponents of the ordinance, like Jeff Allen, whose store sells tobacco products, say they don't want kids to vape but fear the financial repercussions of the change. "What I also see in Philadelphia is blocks and blocks of neighborhoods that have no stores left because they have no products to sell," Allen said.
If the City Council passes the bill, it would take effect immediately. The earliest the Council will vote on it will be Dec. 5.
The ordinance was first introduced last month, against a backdrop of multiple deaths and a federal warning about the dangers of electronic cigarettes.
As of Nov. 13, 42 people in 24 states and Washington, D.C., had died due to vaping, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those deaths include people in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey.
The CDC also reported 2,016 vaping-related injuries as of Nov. 5.
As the investigations into the deaths and illnesses continue, the CDC and Food and Drug Administration have recommended that people stop using electronic cigarette products altogether, especially those containing THC or bought off the street.