Beverly Hills Council approves sweeping ban on most tobacco sales

Cigarettes are displayed on store shelves in Beverly Hills, Calif. The Beverly Hills City Council on June 4, 2019, voted to outlaw the sale of tobacco products, a move that makes the California city the first in the nation to enact such a ban.

Jae C. Hong | AP Photo

LOS ANGELES — The Beverly Hills City Council late Tuesday unanimously approved a ban on the retail sale of most tobacco products with a sweeping ordinance that is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation.

The tobacco sales ban in the playground of the rich and famous is set to go into effect at the beginning in 2021. It will outlaw the retail sale of cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco and electronic cigarettes sold in gas stations, convenience stores, pharmacies and grocery stores.

The 5-0 vote Tuesday followed the council last month supporting a draft ordinance, which carved out an exemption for upscale cigar lounges and hotels in the city.

“I thought this was just truly a landmark moment for our city, for our community,” Council Member Lili Bosse said prior to the vote. She added that outlawing tobacco sales is in step with Beverly Hills’ reputation as a healthy place and expressed confidence other cities will follow suit with their own bans.

In fact, Beverly Hills Mayor John Mirisch said at the Tuesday meeting that Manhattan Beach is looking at adopting its own ban on the sale of tobacco products. Several beach communities in Southern California already have smoking bans in public areas.

According to the Beverly Hills ordinance, “Allowing tobacco products to be sold in the city increases access to these harmful and dangerous products and does not promote the city’s image as a healthy city.”

The council action was criticized by some retailers who argued the ban would shift sales of tobacco to nearby jurisdictions such as Los Angeles and West Hollywood and hurt small businesses in Beverly Hills. About two dozen tobacco-selling establishments are affected by the ordinance.

The National Association of Tobacco Outlets, which opposed the measure, claims local tobacco sellers in Beverly Hills could see monthly income fall 25% to 45% due to the ban.

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