SEPTA anti-smoking campaign gets mixed results

SEPTA would much rather you spark up a conversation than a blunt.

Before 2020, complaints about smoking on Philadelphia public transit were relatively rare. In 2024, whether it’s vaping, tobacco, marijuana, or K2, smoking is one of SEPTA’s most common complaints.

“In 2017, we averaged about 10 [customer smoking complaints] a month, in 2018, about 19 a month, and in 2019, in the low 20s,” a SEPTA official told Billy Penn. “It changed with COVID. Today, including Transit Watch, we see on average about 260 customer [smoking] complaints a month.”

In response, the transit agency partnered with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health on a no-smoking campaign in 2022. “Respect the Ride” rolled out print and digital signage with humorous anti-smoking slogans on platforms and in vehicles, encouraging riders to report smokers.

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