The smoke hasn't cleared yet, but Beverly Hills is poised to become the first US city to end most tobacco sales, the AP reports. The City Council in the world-renowned enclave of the rich and famous unanimously indicated Tuesday that it's ready to snuff out most sales when it meets again on May 21. The proposal currently contains a loophole allowing cigarette-loving tourists to obtain smokes at hotels. Three plush cigar lounges would also be exempt from the ordinance. The city "has always taken the lead when it's come to restricting smoking," Mayor John Mirisch says. "Let us try to be a light to the other cities if we can." Beverly Hills already restricts the sale of menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products and bans smoking in hotel rooms and restaurants.
Under the proposed law, 24 tobacco-selling establishments—mainly gas stations, grocery stores, and convenience markets—would have to clear their shelves of cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products beginning in some cases as early as next year. Gas station owners denounced the measure at Tuesday's hearing, saying it unfairly targets their businesses and that lost revenue would likely force them to lay off employees. Some say they are considering legal action. "I've been doing this for 40 years, and I can tell you the main reason people pull into a gas station is for gas and cigarettes," says John Pouldar, whose family has owned a popular Union 76 for decades. Public health advocates say they sympathize but retailers must realize their industry is changing and it's now well-known that the tobacco products they sell harm and even kill people.
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