Hookah bars may be snuffed out in Vancouver
City council will decide this week if hookah lounges ought to be banned in Vancouver. At issue is whether hookah smoke, which is largely generated from burning dried fruit, falls under province-wide regulations that ban tobacco use in public places.
See previous coverage here.
The days may be numbered for hookah bars in Vancouver.
City staff say the establishments are breaking the provincial health by-laws.
Those sweeping tobacco regulations that saw a three-metre buffer zone between smokers and doorways, as well as a ban on smoking indoors, have been in effect for three months.
Hookah bars have been largely exempt from those regulations, but Vancouver city staff are recommending no further amendments to the health by-laws, effectively stopping hookah patrons from lighting up.
The hookah bars in Vancouver have argued since a fruit-based substance is being burned in the bowls, and not tobacco, they are in compliance.
But city staff say smoke is smoke regardless of the source.
Council will be reviewing the recommendations this week.
A hookah (Hindi: हुक़्क़ा, Urdu: حقّہ, transliteration: ḥuqqa), or shisha is a single or multi-stemmed (often glass-based) water pipe for smoking. Originally from India, it has gained popularity, especially in the Arab world, particularly under the Ottoman Empire. A hookah operates by water filtration and indirect heat. It can be used for smoking herbal fruits.
Recently many cities, states and countries have implemented smoking bans. In some jurisdictions, hookah businesses can be exempted from the policies through special permits. Some permits however, have requirements such as the business earning a certain minimum percentage of their revenue from alcohol or tobacco.
In some cases, hookah bars have been forced to close or consider alternatives, such as offering non-tobacco based maasel. In many cities though, hookah lounges have been growing in popularity. From the year 2000 to 2004, over 200 new hookah cafes opened for business, most of which are targeted at a young-adult age group,and were particularly near college campuses or cities with large Middle-Eastern communities. This activity continues to grow in popularity within the post-secondary student demographic.
In Canada, the term 'shisha' is more commonly used than 'hookah'.