The Beverly Hills City Council unanimously approved a ban on the retail sale of most tobacco products with an ordinance that is the first of its kind in the United States, reports The Los Angeles Times.
The tobacco sales ban is set to go into effect at the beginning in 2021 and will outlaw the retail sale of cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes sold in gas stations, convenience stores, pharmacies and grocery stores.
It includes 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,” said Council Member Lili Bosse prior to the vote. According to Bosse, outlawing tobacco sales is consistent with Beverly Hills’ reputation as a healthy place. She expressed confidence other cities will follow suit with their own bans.
The council action was criticized by some retailers who argued the ban would shift sales of tobacco to nearby locations such as Los Angeles and West Hollywood and hurt small businesses in Beverly Hills. The National Association of Tobacco Outlets, which opposed the measure, claims tobacco sellers in Beverly Hills could see monthly income fall 25 to 45 percent due to the ban.
“Forbidding adult citizens from buying a legal product is a frontal attack on personal freedom,” said Guillaume Périgois, director of Forest EU. “Banning not only cigarettes but also chewing tobacco and electronic cigarettes shows this prohibition has little to do with protecting the health of nonsmokers and could actually backfire. Forcing people to drive ten more minutes to buy elsewhere in L.A. a product they enjoy doesn’t make any sense.”