Hookah Under Fire

The City Council Health Committee is considering proposed legislation that would limit the use of non-tobacco smoking products in restaurants and prohibit sale of shisha and hookah.

Council member Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan), chairman of the health committee, outlined the proposal at a Feb. 25 hearing that introduced five related bills. New York City’s Smoke Free Air Act, which prohibits smoking cigarettes and electronic cigarettes in workplaces, restaurants and bars, would include hookah and shisha as well. The legislation would also prohibit the sale of non-tobacco shisha and pipes to young adults, and raise the age of sale of those products from 18 to 21.

Council members said the bills focused mainly on widely held misconception that smoking hookah is not as great a health risk as cigarettes. The commonly smoked pipe of herbs and mostly tobacco is highly popular among adolescents and usually smoked in a group setting with shared mouthpieces.