Regulating Hookah Lounges?

(Photo by Rick Maiman via Queens Chronicle)

(Photo by Rick Maiman via Queens Chronicle)

The manager of a hookah lounge in Queens is worried about the consequences if new restrictions on the businesses are adopted by the City Council, Christina Cardona writes in Queens Chronicle.

Four different pieces of legislation are under consideration, including one that would raise the legal age to buy non-tobacco shisha, pipes and rolling paper from 18 to 21. Hookah bars would also be required to post signs warning the customers of the health affects of using non-tobacco shisha products in devices lit with charcoal. Another bill would require that any restaurants that permit non-tobacco shisha restrict its use to a section of the restaurant, no greater than 5 percent, of its seating capacity.

Honestly, I don’t think that’s right, due to the fact that people come in here at their own will, every individual that comes in here knows what they’re getting into. If they don’t like smoking they don’t have to come in,” a manager at a hookah bar in Queens, who wished to remain anonymous, said. “What are we going to tell our customers? That they have to wait until the 5 percent section is done? I don’t think that makes any sense,” he said.

The bills were discussed at a recent meeting of the City Council’s Health Committee. Council member Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan), chairman of the committee, noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that hookah smoke is as harmful as cigarette smoke, because the way that hookahs are smoked leads to a larger intake of toxins over an extended period of time, in comparison to cigarettes. What could smoking a hookah for 40 minutes be equivalent to? Go to Queens Chronicle to read what Council member Ydanis Rodríguez had to say about that.

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