LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A city commission is considering a rule to prohibit cab drivers from smoking in their taxis at any time, even when passengers are not around.

Managers of taxicab companies recently asked city transportation officials to tighten up rules around smoking in taxis as a way to improve their competitiveness with “alternative” ride providers, such as Uber and Lyft.

The owners complained that taxi drivers who smoke in between picking up passengers often leave an unpleasant, “ashtray-type” smell in the cars that could put off customers.

“The prospect of experiencing a foul-smelling vehicle interior decreases the overall desirability of hiring a taxicab for many passengers, thereby harming the competitiveness of the taxicab industry with alternative transportation providers,” Transportation Department General Manager Seleta Reynolds wrote in a report to the commission.

The city currently allows drivers to smoke in their taxis if they have their passengers’ consent. The proposed rule would be modeled after one in Beverly Hills that prohibits cabbies from smoking “at all times.” The proposed rule would bar not only tobacco, but also e-cigarette smoking.

If the board tentatively approves the proposal, the public would be given a chance to read about it and make comments before a final vote is taken.

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