City Council bans the use of Hookah’s in Toronto

Late last year, Toronto city council overwhelmingly voted to ban the use of hookah’s inside licensed hookah lounges.
The new law is expected to come into effect April 2016 bringing associated amendments to the Municipal Code Chapter 545, Licensing. Hookahs or water pipes are used to smoke tobacco and another herbal product known as shisha. Shisha is tobacco combined with molasses or honey that is used for smoking. The tobacco in cigars and cigarettes contains industrial chemicals and artificial additives while shisha is made of only natural substances and comes in a wide variety of flavors.
Currently, only non-tobacco shisha can legally be smoked at hookah businesses. Hookah smoking has been popular among people from Middle Eastern and North African countries but has become widespread in North America amongst youth and adults with many establishments in Toronto permitting entry to minors.
Toronto Public Health has estimated that as of April 2015 there were at least 60 Toronto businesses offering the use of the hookah on their premises. Data from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care shows that Toronto has the highest number of hookah businesses in Ontario, with the majority of these businesses being licensed as eating establishments and some as entertainment or retail stores.
In 2014, a study was conducted which determined that the hookah presents health dangers for users in addition to those exposed to second-hand smoke. Data obtained on indoor air quality at hookah establishments demonstrated that the use of any substance could result in negative health consequences. Furthermore, Toronto Public Health presented the results of an air monitoring study at 12 indoor and 5 outdoor hookah cafes in Toronto which found alarming levels of fine air pollutant particles and carbon monoxide. Researchers determined that employees and customers at indoor hookah cafes are exposed to air pollution at levels that are considered harmful to human health. Outdoor hookah cafes showed less harmful levels than indoors, but air quality levels were still poor. High levels of nicotine in the air in indoor locations alluded to the fact that tobacco shisha is smoked in contravention of the Smoke Free Ontario Act at hookah businesses, exposing staff and patrons to the health risks of tobacco use, nicotine and second-hand tobacco smoke. In Ontario, Peterborough, Orillia, Bradford West Gwillimbury and Barrie have already prohibited hookah use in indoor public places regardless of whether tobacco or herbal shisha is being used.
Some Canadian cities have already banned the use of the hookah. In 2013, Alberta passed legislation barring the smoking of tobacco-like substances and excluding of smoking these products in hookahs in public places where smoking was already prohibited. Recently, Nova Scotia also passed similar legislation which took effect in May. Use of the hookah was challenged in British Columbia as being a violation of The Charter of Rights. It is worth noting that the Court did not uphold the same sentiment.
More to the point is the fact that the use of the hookah weakens the hard fought accomplishments of the Smoke Free Ontario Act, enacted in 1994 and last amended in 2015, by making hookah use socially acceptable.
A lawyer representing 14 owners of hookah establishments said his clients are willing to be regulated by the City as they want to stay in business. It appears City Council does not agree. Although I am not a smoker, I do wonder, what ban is next? What makes drinking or gambling safer than smoking?

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