Should hookah bars remain open despite Washington’s indoor smoking ban?

Hookah Lounge

Washington introduced a ban on smoking in indoor public places about 7 years ago, but one exception remains: hookah lounges.

Local health departments have made great efforts to close them.

The lounges say that they are private clubs and should not be regarded as public venues, so the law does not touch on them. They all charge some kind of membership fee, as a rule about $5.

However, that does not any influence on Frank DiBiase, who is a health official of the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department. His office analyzed three hookah lounges in Tacoma in 2011.

DiBiase said that when they had analyzed the situation they determined that the hookah lounge definitely breaks the state’s law on smoking in public places.

Two weeks ago, DiBiase made an announcement of an agreement with the Venus and Mars Lounge, which acceded to stop the sale of tobacco products. However, the lounge is still open for customer; it will carry out an experiment with a smokeless, tobacco-free product.

The agreement came about a year after the health department first talked over with the lounge. Frank DiBiase says that another hookah bar will get served its papers in the next few days.

Trendy on campus, but cultural for others

A hookah lounge is social place where people sit around on couches or arm-chairs with friends and smoke flavored hookah tobacco. The hookah itself is a tall water pipe, actually with several hoses coming out of it.  The rent the pipe and for a tobacco mixture, with flavors like apple or peach, costs about$15 or 20.

Hookah lounges have been a famous business near college campuses across Washington.

Nebil Mohammed of Seattle’s Medina Lounge says that maybe hookah smoking is a popular trend, however hookah is an old tradition. Nebil adds that his grandmother smokes it, his mom smokes it.

Some immigrants consider that a hookah lounge is an alternative to a bar where they can play cards and smoke hookah.

Mohammed says that most of immigrants are from the Middle East, from Islamic states, whose club has a $5 membership and does not have food for order.

“So, they simply sit down and chit chat. It’s a social thing where they sit down and talk about everything – what happened around the world.”

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