Council votes to ban hookahs from public establishments

As of April 1, use of hookahs no longer permitted at eateries

Those in Toronto who love hitting hookah bars will have to say goodbye to popular establishments like Starbuzz Lounge and Grill, Habibiz Restaurant and Cafe and Shishalicious.

A recent report released by a Toronto medical officer outlining the harmful affects of hookahs has prompted city council to ban its use in public establishments.

On Nov. 4, the council voted 43-3 for the ban to take effect next April 1.

3 things to know about hookah ban

1. Toronto City Council voted 43-3 to ban hookah use in public establishments
2. The motion came after Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, David McKeown outlined the harmful risks associated with smoking hookahs.
3. The ban will affect all shisha bars, restaurants and cafes as of April 1, 2016.

A hookah is the Persian term for a vaporizing water-pipe, which allows you to smoke flavoured tobacco called shisha.

Although it is a common practice among Middle-Eastern and Arabic cultures, it became a popular phenomenon in Canada.

After cities began enforcing indoor smoking bans, public establishments opted for non-tobacco mixtures as alternatives to flavoured shisha.

The impression was created that without  tobacco the health risks associated with smoking would be removed.

“Using a hookah to smoke any substance poses health risks, such as heart and lung diseases, lung cancer and other respiratory problems to users and those exposed to second-hand smoke, including employees,” said Dr. David McKeown, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health in a news release. “Hookah smoking is on the rise among young people, who often mistakenly believe it is a safe form of smoking.”

It is a common misconception that the water is meant to filter the harmful chemicals of the smoke, which is why McKeown urged the city council in May to pass the motion to ban indoor hookah use.

Council voted 43-3 in favour of McKeown’s proposal, with councillors Giorgio Mammoliti, Denzil Minnan-Wong and Jim Karyigiannis as the three abstaining votes.