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New PA budget strips Philadelphia of power to regulate cigarette sales

June 27, 2018

City & State Pennsylvania,

Ryan Briggs,

June 26, 2018-

Even as some Pennsylvania legislators head out the door for their summer recess, the impacts of a speedily passed $32.7 billion state budget are just beginning to be fully understood. To wit: One small amendment slipped into the voluminous state fiscal code effectively stripped Philadelphia of its power to pass additional regulations on tobacco sales. The move comes just as City Council was gearing up for a renewed push to curb sales of nicotine products as a health initiative. The rub, according to Capitol Republicans who pushed for the recent amendment, is that the city is also dependent on the sale of cigarettes and similar products for school funding.

Drew Crompton, chief of staff to Republican Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, said so-called “hold harmless” provisions leave the state liable for funding shortfalls from a $2-per-pack levy on certain tobacco sales in the city, introduced almost four years ago to patch the local school district budget. “We’ve already had one cycle where we had to up funding because of increased regulation in Philadelphia,” he said.

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