NYC Closing Hookah Bars Violating Clean-Air Act with Tobacco
By Trishanna Singh, Copy Editor
When it comes to health, cigarette smoking and the harmful things it can do to you have always been number one on the list of deadly vices. The alternative to smoking has been Hookah for many, and New York City is seeking a way to shut down Hookah bars that involve tobacco in their establishment.
For those unaware of what Hookahs are about, they are water pipes that are used to create smoke. They are combined with different flavors of Tobacco to make it appealing to smokers.
Some may say that it is safer than cigarette smoking; however, hookah is just the same when tobacco is involved. Hookah contains the same harmful toxins such as charcoal and can equally lead you diagnosed with lung cancer according to the CDC.
In addition to the same harmful effects of smoking, Hookah causes long term damage. When you are older in age, you can develop oral cancer because Hookahs are affiliated with more traces of Tobacco than regular smoking. Fifty-five students who usually smoke Hookah were asked to complete an experiment to see how much percent of Tobacco was in their urine after smoking one night. According to Healthday, the samples contained seventy-three higher nicotine levels.
In November of 2014, added nicotine in hookahs came to the attention of the Department of Health after a sting operation in several Hookah Bars. Under the city’s 2002 Smoke-Free Air Act, the use of Tobacco was restricted along with the rule of no smoking in restaurants or lounges. To get proof and check to see if their rules were being followed, the Health Department of New York City instigated a sting operation by using normal New York University students on Friday November 14, 2014 to get samples of shisha. After testing the samples it was revealed that the Hookah did contain tobacco and was violating the rules and regulations of the Department of Health.
On January 7, 2015, the Department of Health revoked thirteen permits from Hookah Lounges. Now these Bars will be forced to close down and no word of reapplying for permits have been released. These thirteen bars are all located in Manhattan and Queens. While the Department of Health feels that this is a worthwhile decision others feel that it was a mistake. According to LA Times, New York Resident John Russo said, “ Everybody is happy here. It should have been left that way.”
You may wonder why they allowed Hookah Bars in the first place if it involved Tobacco, but that was not always the plan. The City Department of Health allowed the Hookah Bars to continue their establishment if and only if the Shisha contained natural ingredients like molasses, fruit and herbs. Due to this situation and many factors that took place, some owners think that they are not to be blamed. Some owners' rebuttal said that there was tobacco in their Shisha without them having the knowledge of it. But the Health Department is not sticking up for that excuse.
Health Commissioner Mary Basset said, "We will not tolerate this willful disregard of New York City's smoke-free air laws and have already taken steps to revoke the permits of these establishments." Owners also say that all the DOH should have done was give them a fine to pay instead of shutting down their businesses.
Not only is this happening in New York, but in other states and all over the world. Countries like India where Hookah originated from are trying to put an end to Hookah Bars. New York City has surely become the Health Superhero when it comes down to making New York a healthier place, but a villain to those who own businesses.
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