The City of Beverly Hills has become the first in the United States to ban the sale of all tobacco products.
Beverly Hills has passed the most restrictive tobacco ban in the nation Tuesday, barring the sale of virtually all nicotine products and setting the stage for a wave of copycat laws in small municipalities around the country.
The City Council had already given preliminary approval to the measure last month, but Tuesday’s vote made the decision final.
The vote does not impact smoking activities in the city, but existing city regulations already restrict smoking in many public areas as well as multi-unit housing.
The tobacco sales ban in the playground of the rich and famous is set to go into effect at the beginning on January 1, 2021.
The ban covers sales at gas stations and pharmacies as well as convenience and grocery stores. However, it exempts hotels and several plush cigar lounges in the wealthy and glamorous Los Angeles suburb.
The hotel exemption was designed to accommodate tourists, who could have a concierge deliver their smokes — although they’d have to smoke them outside – and the four posh cigar lounges that have become refuges for the city’s affluent puffers.
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.
Fox News reports:
Logan Phillippo, the policy and management analyst for Beverly Hills, sent a report to the council last month outlining how the ban would be implemented. The report noted that while there are no state or federal laws barring Beverly Hills from carrying out the ban on tobacco products, the city should expect to face legal challenges.
“Courts have not yet reviewed citywide bans on tobacco sales, however, so there is still uncertainty as to whether a court would uphold this type of ban if challenged,” the report states. “Given that no other City in the United States has adopted a comprehensive ban on all tobacco products, the City is likely to face legal challenges.”
Gas station owners opposed the measure, saying it unfairly targeted their businesses and might force employee layoffs, while public health advocates argued that the cost is higher in terms of health.
Beverly Hills’ ordinance comes as tobacco and vaping products have come into the crosshairs of numerous state governments as well as Congress — with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introducing legislation on Monday that would raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21.