Hookahs and the Smoking BanDecember 9th, 2005 by josh farley
The realities imposed by one of the most regulatory smoking bans in the country are now being felt by Washingtonians.
How businesses will react to the ban is yet to be seen. Some proprietors’ entire livelihoods depend entirely upon smoking patrons. Take, for example, the illustrious hookah bar.
First, a little background (if you know the topic, skip down three paragraphs).
In any public place, there’s more smoking inside and no more smoking outside – up to 25 feet, near vents, doors and windows. Law enforcement and the health district insist for now that educating the public to follow the law is the number one priority. But eventually, patrons will be slapped with a $100 fine, though it’s not clear yet what the standard penalty will be.
Smokers and proprietors whose clientele and/or employees enjoy a light on a regular basis are fuming over Initiative 901, a.k.a. the Clean Indoor Air Act, which began Dec. 8.
A vast majority supported than ban, with 63 percent voting for it. For official results, click here.
It has yet to be seen just how these specialty owners will be impacted. They may be able to bank on other products they sell. Or they could close for good. In the case of the hookah bar, it may be the end of a short era.
For background on the hookah care of The Economist, click here.
Some friends and I decided we’d take in what could be our last chance at Zaina, a downtown Seattle hookah bar, Wednesday. The place was packed; the smoke was thick. An informal polling technique by yours truly found that many were angered by the passage of the smoking ban.
However, from what I remember from my college days in California, our neighbors to the south, too, had a smoking ban – but hookah bars were alive and well. So what gives?
Turns out, there exist exemptions in some of the other eight states with smoking bans, such as California, that make it possible for proprietors to run “tobacco bars.” See an article on one such exemption, care of the Columbia News Service here.
No such exemption was established here in Washington. But hookah fans, cigar aficionados and smokers alike will no doubt be curious if such an exemption could be created, or passed under a new law.
Should the ban be a one size fits all approach, or are there exceptions to the rule, like the hookah?