They understand that people have the choice to smoke or not smoke, but the city doesn't want to play a part in its rampant sale.
Roughly a year and a half from now, tobacco products will no longer be stacked on shelves and stores in Beverly Hills, possibly taking the people of the city one step closer to being a healthier society. After the Beverly Hills City Council supported an ordinance, the ban will be the first of its kind in America to take the products off shelves, starting from January 1, 2021, according to a City Council statement.
One of the leading causes of premature death, not to mention a preventable cause of death is smoking. Cigarettes add to the risk of a number of diseases and take away the lives of 443,000 every year in the United States, as pointed out in a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Now that the city of Beverly Hills is slashing down the usage of tobacco products, other cities may follow.
"This reflects the values of our community," said Mayor John Mirisch. "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 ban will sweep out cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, and electronic cigarettes from gas stations, convenience stores, pharmacies, and grocery stores. But high-end cigar lounges and hotels will be exempted from the ban.
“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,” said the Beverly Hills ordinance.
Before the unanimous vote took place, Council Member Lili Bosse said, "I thought this was just truly a landmark moment for our city, for our community."
Among those who voiced their opinions against the ban were local business owners who said that it would significantly cause their sales to drop and even force them to let go of some of their employees. The complete end in the sale of tobacco products could result in the monthly income of local sellers declining by 25 percent to 45 percent.
Other issues were also raised by the National Association of Tobacco Outlets, as reported by CNN, stressing that the ordinance wouldn't really make a difference in the usage of the products. The group's executive director said, "Adults will simply drive to adjacent cities to purchase their preferred tobacco products. 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."
However, those advocating for public health stressed on the bigger picture, saying that public health was a bigger concern than the ban's effect on retail sales, as reported by CBS News. When tobacco products are no longer being sold on every street, it could even prevent children and younger people from making a habit out of smoking.
"Children will not be interested in starting, and (smoking) won’t be looked upon as cool or anything but damaging and bad," Mirisch said, according to USA Today.
Bosse also said that the ban wasn't about a person's choice to smoke, but about the consumption. "People’s right to smoke is obviously something we hold sacred," Bosse said. "What we’re saying is we’re not going to take part in selling it. They are not going to buy it in our city."
Although tobacco usage has been around since the 1800s, it turned into a problem when they became a vastly commercialized product, machine-rolled with a number of harmful chemicals going into it, that was so easily available everywhere.
"It's not the first time that communities have tried to do this," said Ruth Malone, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco and editor-in-chief of Tobacco Control, a journal on tobacco control policy. "I think when you understand the history of the cigarette as a consumer product, which is the single most deadly consumer product ever made, it kind of makes sense that finally somebody would say, 'Wait a minute, this is too dangerous to be sold on every street corner.'"
While a number of opinions may arise with respect to the ban, Beverly Hills has now decided to put the health of the city's people over everything.