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Beverly Hills votes to ban tobacco sales, but exempts Schwarzenegger’s favorite cigar club

Published: May 24, 2019
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Source: latimes.com

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Beverly Hills has long been anything but a smoker’s paradise. The city was the first in California to ban smoking inside restaurants and most public places, back in 1987, and added outdoor venues to the list in 2007.

Now it is poised to enact what officials say is the most stringent tobacco ban in the country, eliminating the sale of virtually all recreational nicotine products — with one very Beverly Hills exception.

Cigarettes are out. Vapes are dead. But for an elite group of aficionados, hundreds of whom swamped committee meetings and wrote the city in protest, cigars will be spared — as long as they’re smoked inside one of three dedicated lounges.

Entreaties have poured in to City Hall from top executives at real estate offices, security firms, talent agencies — and from former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Nearly all of them are acolytes of the Grand Havana Room on North Canon Drive, a club so exclusive its members need a special key to get in.

“The Grand Havana Room, which I have been a member of since its inception, provides a treasured home away from home,” wrote Schwarzenegger. “It is unthinkable that the city might adopt a policy that would intentionally or unintentionally cause the closure of this character-defining institution.”

Schwarzenegger made clear he supported the ban, which gained near-final approval in a unanimous City Council vote Tuesday night. “I am right there with you,” he wrote. “I agree with your battle to protect people from the dangers of tobacco smoke.”

But when it came to his club, Schwarzenegger wrote, the city should back off.

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