Philadelphia City Council bans sale of flavored tobacco in the city

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia City Council Thursday banned the sale of flavored tobacco products in the city. 

The bill targets smokeless tobacco and similar products, except for cigarettes, that are aimed at teenagers with flavors like bubblegum, grape, chocolate and strawberry. It had been sitting on Council's calendar for more than a year and when the state passed preemptive legislation in 2018, it looked like it was dead. 

So it was a surprise when it was called up for a vote and passed unanimously.

"Timing is everything," said sponsor Curtis Jones.

Jones said the element of surprise was a strategy to keep lobbyists from working on his Council colleagues to defeat the bill.

"One lobbyist came up to me and said, 'you're actually going to move that today?' and I said, 'yes,' and he said, 'well, we didn't think' and I said, 'there you go. We don't need to complete that sentence,'" Jones said.

He said Councilmembers who originally opposed the bill came around as Council debated prohibiting the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in any store that allows minors. That measure also passed at this week's meeting. 

As for the state law preempting such bans, Jones believes there is no way for the state to enforce that law.