BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.—Tobacco products will soon be a rarity in most stores in Beverly Hills, California.
The City Council on Tuesday night unanimously approved an ordinance prohibiting the sale of most tobacco products. The crackdown is the first of its kind in the United States, according to the National Association of Tobacco Outlets.
Tobacco products include cigarettes, cigars, dissolvable products, electronic cigarettes, chewing tobacco and water pipes.
The ban is expected to go into effect January 1, 2021, and follows public input and recommendations from the city’s Health and Safety Commission, according to a May 7 City Council statement.
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— NBC Los Angeles (@NBCLA) June 5, 2019
Exemptions for Cigar Lounges and Hotels
The ordinance will affect tobacco retailers, including gas stations, convenience stores, and pharmacies. However, it will exempt cigar lounges and allow hotels to sell tobacco products to guests.
The hotel exemption was designed to accommodate tourists, who could have a concierge deliver their smokes—although they’d have to smoke them outside.
There are 28 establishments in Beverly Hills that have permits to sell tobacco products, and three are cigar lounges. Several of these businesses have protested the ordinance, citing loss of revenue, though there is an exemption for retailers that demonstrate the ban would cause undue hardship.
Gas station owners opposed the measure, saying it unfairly targeted their businesses and might force employee layoffs.
The City Council said it will review the impact on tourism in three years.
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— Fox 35 News (@Fox35News) June 5, 2019
The City Has Already Clamped Down on Smoking
The council said it believes the public health benefits outweigh the loss in business profits.
“This reflects the values of our community,” Mayor John Mirisch said in a statement. “We are a city that has taken the lead on restricting smoking and promoting public health. Somebody has to be first, so let it be us.”
The American Lung Association gave Beverly Hills an A grade for tobacco control. The city has already instituted strict regulations on where people are allowed to smoke.
“It is likely that convenience stores in Beverly Hills will close because they rely on in-store tobacco sales for about one-third of their gross sales,” the National Association of Tobacco Outlets said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.