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New Tobacco Regulations Take Effect In Philadelphia In New Year

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Starting on January 1, new smoking provisions will go into effect throughout the city of Philadelphia. The new provisions are aimed at reducing the exposure of children to tobacco products.

Effective starting in the New Year, officials are also hiking up enforcement of laws against illegal tobacco sales.

"These new measures put Philadelphia out front as a leader in the effort to protect children from the harmful effects of tobacco products," said Dr. Thomas Farley, Commissioner of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. "This Administration is committed to making sure our kids don't start smoking."

The new provisions include tobacco-free school zones prohibiting new tobacco retailer permits within 500 feet of any K-12 school. In addition, the new provisions increases the tobacco retailer permit fee to $300 dollars; this hike will cover the costs associated with enhanced enforcement of the prohibition on sales to children.

The new provisions also declares harsher penalties for retailers selling tobacco products to underage children. Retailers will receive a 12-month tobacco sale suspension if caught selling to underage customers three times within a two year period.

Finally, the new provisions places a density cap on tobacco retailers. This will not go into effect until February 15, 2017.

"Low income neighborhoods have more stores selling cigarettes, more point-of-sale advertising of tobacco products, and more tobacco retailers near schools than other neighborhoods," said Dr. Cheryl Bettigole, Director of the health department Division of Chronic Disease Prevention. "These new regulations are aimed at protecting children in these neighborhoods from this marketing."

Philadelphians trying to quit smoking can receive free coaching and quit-smoking medications by calling 1-800-QUIT NOW.

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