Philadelphia's Tobacco Rules Take Toll on 7-Eleven's Plans

PHILADELPHIA — Increased tobacco legislation is sweeping the nation, and new regulations are now impacting one retail chain's plans for the City of Brotherly Love.

Last year, the Philadelphia Board of Health approved several rules aimed at the tobacco category, including suspending tobacco sales permits for 12 months to retailers who are cited three times in two years for selling to minors; banning new tobacco retailer permits within 500 feet of kindergarten through 12th grade schools; and limiting permits to one retailer per 1,000 residents, as CSNews Online previously reported

However, in December the board tweaked the license rule limiting permits based on population to place limits based on "commuter-adjusted daytime population." The new calculation, along with the other rules, went into effect earlier this year. 

That change was largely driven by Wawa Inc. However, now 7-Eleven Inc. is scaling back on its plans to grow its presence in Philadelphia.

Calling the areas in Philadelphia affected by the population limit and proximity to a school "red zones," the Philadelphia Daily News reported that more than half of the 60 7-Eleven stores in Philadelphia are in red zones. 

Now, Manzoor Chughtai, president of the Delaware Valley 7-Eleven franchisers organization, told the news outlet that 7-Eleven is backing off plans to open 35 additional stores in the city.

With the new rules in place, most of the new convenience stores would not be able to sell cigarettes — and depending on location — the backbar can account for 25 to 50 percent of gross revenue. The c-stores would also be in danger of losing out on other purchases made by the tobacco consumer, like snacks and beverages, the news outlet said.

Another 7-Eleven store owner, Bilal Barqawi, told the Daily News that he has owned his location since 2002; however, because a school opened up within 500 feet of his store three years his permit will now be revoked.

Health Department spokesman James Garrow said the department "understand(s) some retailers might be negatively impacted,” but the goal is to reduce smoking by children.

Irving, Texas-based 7 Eleven operates, franchises or licenses approximately 10,900 convenience stores in North America. 

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