A noisy debate breaks out over Beverly Hills, as people in tony hairdressing salons, gas stations and shops weigh on whether the city of the rich and famous will be the first in the United States to ban the sale of tobacco products anywhere except a few cigar lounges .
The City Council decided on Tuesday night to make some changes to the proposal, such that guests in the city's luxury hotel can provide cigarettes through their concierge or room service. Members indicated that they plan to send the modified measure on May 21.
Leave has said yes to the idea, and the better after all, while smokers protested, no way.
"It's a ridiculous idea," hairdresser Giuseppe Franco soon shouted after illuminating a Marlboro Light on a breezeway just outside the exclusive hair salon carrying his name.
"First off, let's be honest. Smoking is bad. I don't let my daughter smoke," he said during an occasional profane tirade delivered between buffers.
"But it's going to hurt my friends," he said, pointing out that a 24-hour Rite Aid pharmacy down the street is doing great business in cigarettes that go for around $ 8 a pack.
Then Union 76 connects a gas station a couple of blocks away, where the cashier says they sell about 50 packs a day at $ 1
California is among at least 25 states that prohibit smoking in workplaces, restaurants, and bars. It also has one of the highest cigarette taxes in the country – almost $ 3 per package.
Beverly Hills already limits sales of menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products.
But the proposed regulation would go much further and ban all tobacco products from grocery stores, pharmacies, hotels and gas stations in the city 34,000 people between West Hollywood and Los Angeles.
"My celebrities clients smoke", Franco fumed.
Like most businessmen in Beverly Hills, he did not win their name, but he took out a copy of the hotel magazine Concierge with a picture of him with his friend Arnold Schwarzenegger, a cigar franchise.
Victory lords will probably not have to sacrifice if the scheme is adopted. A town personnel report recommends avoiding three tony cigar lounges in Beverly Hills.
Nevertheless, the people of one of them, Nazareth's fine cigars, were not happy.
"They're going to chase tourists from here," retired businessman John Davis said while he was relaxing in a comfortable armchair, smacking his hand.
The decision came after the five-member government heard two hours of sometimes emotional but always polite testimony from many People on both sides of the problem.
Owners of gas stations and other small businesses said the ban could force them to lay off people.Health seekers said while they regretted the possibility of people's health was more important
Scott McGuff, a regional leader of Rite Aide, said that the Beverly Hills pharmacy draws many customers from nearby luxury hotels that pick up both cigarettes and other items, and it will lose them without cigarettes.
"It's going to affect layoffs, it's so big of a deal it is for me, "he said.
While council members sympathized, they said that people's health is too important for Beverly Hills not to act.
" We are concerned about providing It's public health, and that's what this conversation is all about, said councilor Julian Gold.
These days many Beverly Hills visit from Asia and Europe, where smoking is Even though the scheme is passing, they will still stroll Rodeo Drive with its high-end stores such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Cartier, and try to pick out Larry King and ot. Her celebrities make their way to Nate's breakfast for breakfast.
But they are going to West Hollywood to buy their smoker because cigarette sales will even be banned at famous places like Beverly Wilshire, the hotel where Julia Roberts & # 39; characters remained in "Pretty Woman", the movie that made her a star.
Not everyone in Beverly Hills is a wealthy celebrity, of course. While the median price of a home is over $ 2 million, and the median annual income is over $ 103,000, about 9 percent of the population actually falls below the poverty line, according to the US census.
The stations, pharmacies and other sites offering modest jobs and cigarettes are tucked in corners just off Rodeo Drive and other fashionable streets. Only 28 sell tobacco products, according to the city's staff report.
The city report cites the dangers of smoking and Beverly Hills wants to be a healthy city as a reason for the ban on tobacco sales.
For non-smokers Oscar Melendez and Cezar Diaz, that's reason enough to support it.
"I can get cigarette smoke from 30 feet away," said Melendez and noted that the used smoke is bad for everyone and that it runs from the sidewalk of his valet parking stands in nearby restaurants.
At the fashionable Sarah Pacini clothing store, it gets so bad that Diaz, the manager, says he sometimes has to close the door and ask smokers not to stand on the front side.  Most, he said, react politely.
This story has been corrected to remove an erroneous reference to the hotel where Julia Roberts & # 39; signs remained in "Pretty Woman"; and fixing the spelling of Vuitton.