A fiery debate breaks out in Beverly Hills as people in hairdressing salons, gas stations, and shops ponder whether the city of the rich and famous should become the first in the US to ban the sale of tobacco everywhere cigar lounges.
The city council decided on Tuesday evening to make some changes to the proposal, for example, to allow guests in luxury hotels in the city to purchase cigarettes through concierge or room service. The members stated that they intend to adopt the amended measure on 21 May.
Abstainers have said yes to the idea, and the sooner the better, while smokers protest.
"It's a ridiculous idea," said hairdresser Giuseppe Franco shouting shortly after lighting a Marlboro Light on a wind path outside the upscale barbershop bearing his name.
"First of all, let's be honest, smoking is bad, I do not let my daughter smoke," he said, sometimes a mundane tirade between puffs.
"But it will hurt my friends," he said, pointing out that Rite Aid's 24-hour pharmacy in the street is doing big business with cigarettes costing about $ 8 per pack.
The Union 76 gas station is also a few blocks away, where the cashier says he sells about 50 packs a day for $ 1
California is a member of at least 25 states that prohibit smoking at workplaces, restaurants and bars. It also has one of the highest cigarette taxes in the country – almost $ 3 a pack.
Beverly Hills is already restricting the sale of menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products.
But the proposed regulation would go much further and ban tobacco products from grocery stores, pharmacies, hotels and petrol stations in the city of 34,000 inhabitants between West Hollywood and Los Angeles.
"My celebrity customers are smoking," Franco raved.
Like most business people in Beverly Hills, he won I do not call them, but he pulled out a copy of the hotel magazine Concierge, which contained a photo of him with his buddy Arnold Schwarzenegger, a cigar lover.
Cigar smokers are unlikely to give up when the regulation is adopted. A city official recommends excluding three cigar lounges in Beverly Hills.
Still, the people of one of them, Nazareth's Fine Cigars, were not happy.
"They will chase the tourists out of here," said retired businessman John Davis as he relaxed in a comfortable lounge chair with a cigar in his hand.
The decision was made after the five-member council had heard for two hours sometimes emotional but always polite statements from dozens of people on both sides of the issue.
Owners of gas stations and other small businesses said the ban could force them to dismiss them. Health officials said while regretting that people's health may be more important.
Scott McGuff, a regional manager for Rite Aide, said that the Beverly Hills drugstore attracts many customers from nearby luxury hotels who pick up both cigarettes and other items without the cigarettes.
"It will affect layoffs, that's such a big deal for me," he said.
While the council members sympathized, they said that the health of the population was too important for Beverly Hills
"We are accused of caring for public health, and that's what this conversation is about," the city council said Julian Gold.
These days, many people visit Beverly Hills from Asia and Europe, where smoking prevails Davis used to say the cigar lounge, and when the regulation is passed, they still walk on Rodeo Drive with its high-end stores like Gucci , Louis Vuitton and Cartier and try to find Larry King and Ot your celebrities are making their way to Nate & # 39; s Al's deli for breakfast.
But they're going to West Hollywood to buy smoke there, because selling cigarettes even in famous places like the Beverly Wilshire, the hotel where Julia Robert's character stayed in "Pretty Woman," the movie that turned her into one Star made.
Not everyone in Beverly Hills is a wealthy celebrity, of course. While the average price of a home is more than $ 2 million and the median annual income is more than $ 103,000, according to the US census, about nine percent of the population actually falls below the poverty line.
Gas stations, pharmacies, and other places offering modest jobs and cigarettes are located in corners next to Rodeo Drive and other fashionable streets. According to the city personnel report only 28 tobacco products sell.
The city report cites the dangers of smoking and Beverly Hills' desire to be a healthy city as reasons for banning tobacco sales.
Smokers Oscar Melendez and Cezar Diaz, that's reason enough to support it.
"I can pick up cigarette smoke from a distance of 30 feet," Melendez said, noting that second-hand smoke is bad for everyone and drifts away from his sidewalk Valet Parking is in nearby restaurants.
In 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 sidewalk in front of the house. [19659002Thisissaidtoanswerpolitely
This story has been corrected to remove a false reference to the hotel in which Julia Roberts' figure has remained in "Pretty Woman"; and to correct the spelling of Vuitton.