PETA anti-fur campaigners demonstrate against model Cindy Crawford at 1200 Sunset Marquis August 26, 2004 in Los Angeles, California.  - 

West Hollywood, California, has just put into place one of the first bans on fur sales in the country. 

But it isn’t likely to stop that many people from buying a new fur coat. Even supporters will tell you that. 

“I do think this is mostly a symbolic ordinance, given how tiny our city is and the small number of businesses affected,” says West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tempore John D’Amico, “But clearly, its reach and the discussion about it, that’s the effect we hoped it would have and it has been having.”

Many animal rights activists see it as a victory. Others, like Rutgers law professor Gary Francione, think symbolic bans like this are a distraction.

“It’s not really changing things and it’s not going to change them. West Hollywood can do whatever it wants to do,” he says.

Francione says these sorts of splashy bans can help groups raise money. But he thinks they aren’t all that helpful in getting people to think seriously about the welfare of animals -- like the one they’re having for dinner.  

Follow Adriene Hill at @adrienehill