Beverly Hills becomes first US city to ban almost all tobacco sales

Public health advocates celebrate move as petrol station owners say it unfairly targets their businesses

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Beverly Hills, the land of celebrity mansions and luxury hotels, has taken a bold step in becoming the first US city to almost completely ban the sale of tobacco.

The decision was made during a unanimous vote in the California city’s council on Tuesday night and would take effect in 2021.

Cigar lounges and hotels in the ritzy suburb will still be permitted to sell tobacco to their clientele, while petrol stations and pharmacies will be banned from all tobacco sales.

Convenience and grocery stores will also no longer be permitted to sell products like cigarettes, e-cigarettes and cigars, along with all other tobacco products.

While public health advocates have celebrated the move to ban tobacco products, local petrol station owners say the Beverly Hills ban unfairly targets their businesses.

Visitors staying at hotels in the Beverly Hills area will not be permitted to smoke inside, but can still receive cigarettes via a concierge service so long as they are smoked outside, according to the resolution.

"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."

Cigarette sales have been steadily declining in the US in recent years, with a 3.5 per cent drop in 2017 from the year prior.

Still, hundreds of billions of cigarettes are sold across the country annually, and e-cigarettes have proven increasingly popular among youth demographics.

Smoking-related illnesses reportedly result in over $300bn (£236bn) in costs, according to the US Centre for Disease Control.

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Other critics have said the tobacco sales ban will do little to actually mitigate the issue of consumption citywide.

“Adults will simply drive to adjacent cities to purchase their preferred tobacco products,” Thomas Briant, executive director for the National Association of Tobacco Outlets, told CNN. "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."

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