The new law that will prohibit smoking in bars and restaurants as of Jan. 2, 2010, does not allow hookah bars to continue to operate, and it needs to stay that way.
Hookah pipe use carries many of the same health risks as cigarette smoking, including being linked to lung cancer and other respiratory diseases. Hookah users expose themselves to dangerous levels of cancer-causing chemicals, hazardous gases and nicotine.
Hookah bars aim to attract the 18- to-24-year-old age group, and they are succeeding. These new hookah users are at risk for becoming habitual cigarette smokers; one study found that teen hookah users are eight times more likely to experiment with cigarettes.
The goal of this smoke-free legislation is to protect public health. Allowing hookah bars to continue to operate violates that goal.
Manager, Mission Services and Advocacy
American Lung Association in North Carolina, Raleigh