Once again, the Beverly Hills City Council voiced unanimous support for phasing out the sale of tobacco products in their community. Dedicated to the health of their residents, the Council is looking to move swiftly with a 1st reading of the ordinance on May 21, 2019 and a 2nd reading scheduled for June 4th with the final vote then. If it passes, Beverly Hills would be the 1st U.S. city to place the health of their citizens over the profits of the tobacco industry, in both word and action.

Because the Council Members are so clear on the harms of tobacco products, they said at their February 5th Study Session that it’s not necessary to receive multiple public comments stating the harm caused by tobacco products. Regardless, the public conversation surrounding this ordinance should include facts on the outrageous and deadly impacts of tobacco use:

  • Tobacco products remain the #1 cause of preventable death worldwide.
  • 1 person dies every 4.5 seconds from a tobacco-related disease. 13 people a minute.
  • Tobacco products are responsible for 20% of ALL deaths in the U.S.
    • And even if smokers don’t die from their addiction, cigarettes harm nearly every organ in their body, severely reducing their quality of life.

City of Beverly Hills City Council Regular Meeting
May 7, 2019

(Discussion on tobacco begins at 1:14:52)

Logan Filippo, the Policy Management Analyst from the Health and Safety Commission of Beverly Hills began the session with a report on the timeline of the ordinance’s development, the retail environment at present, and the definitions included in the ordinance. He noted that 27 retail locations (with 28 permits issued but one store having two) would be impacted by the bill and that an exemption for cigar lounges currently exists. He also touched on the hardship exemption included for retailers, as well as the city’s extensive business impact mitigation opportunities coming from partnerships with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC)’s consultants through the Chamber of Commerce and the SCORE Program.

Health and Safety Commission Chair Gary Ross also spoke briefly to convey the public’s support for the cigar lounge exemption and his staff’s sentiment that there should be a zero tolerance policy for hotels violating the proposed exemption of sales to their customers only.

Moved to public comment period with two minutes of speaking time per person.

Five-star hotels requested the exemption of selling tobacco products to their guests, saying they aim to provide their guests with anything they want. The Mayor pointed out that the hotels do not allow smoking in their rooms, noting that guests likely want that option, but no update was provided to him on whether that policy may change.

Retailers were unhappy with the original proposal of different phase out dates based on the type of retailer. Those dates have since been synergized to ban the sale of tobacco products at all retailers after January 1, 2021.

Breathe LA thanked the Council for their work and noted that other cities won’t do this UNLESS Beverly Hills does. The American Heart Association reminded the Council that smoking is the leading cause of preventable death. The Coalition for a Tobacco-Free LA County offered the comparison that other products harmful to the public like asbestos and lead gas have been phased out. And the American Academy of Pediatrics voiced their support for the total ban on tobacco sales in Beverly Hills.

Two students from the Medical Science Academy in Beverly Hills shared more information on the harms of tobacco and how their families have been negatively impacted by tobacco products.

Public comment closed, moving to Council Member questions and comments.

All five Council Members voiced clear support for the ordinance with the proposed cigar lounge and hotel concierge exemptions. They are proud to be leaders in this movement to truly make health a priority, and they appreciate the work of the Commission to mitigate the business impacts for residents.

Former Mayor Dr. Gold said a message resonating with him that night was surrounding personal rights, but he in turn offered the comparison that the city does have speed limits, clarifying that people want to make decisions for themselves but there must be an overriding consideration about the public health.

Council Member Bosse recalled their chambers being packed during the original smoke-free restaurant ordinance debates, with restaurant owners saying their businesses who die, but instead they thrived and other communities soon followed after.

Mayor Mirisch closed the meeting saying, “This is reflective of our community. And somebody has to be first. Let us be a light onto other cities.”