Bay Ridge

De Blasio, Gentile sign hookah regulation bill

October 17, 2017 By John Alexander Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Photo courtesy of Gentile's office

New Law Protects Those Under 21 From Dangers of Hookah Smoke

Mayor Bill De Blasio and City Councilmember Vincent Gentile signed the first-ever regulation on hookah smoking in NYC into law on Tuesday by adding non-tobacco hookah to the Smoke Free Air Act. This makes New York City the first city to have a law governing the cleanliness of hookah paraphernalia.

Like cigarette smoking being prohibited indoors under the current law, hookah smoke will now be added to that rule. Non-tobacco shisha has been scientifically shown to be just as dangerous as smoking 100 cigarettes in one session due to the carcinogens produced and the length of time people use hookah pipes versus smoking one cigarette, according to a statement released by Gentile. 

Data has clearly shown even smoking non-tobacco shisha is a health risk that poses a danger to those who smoke but also to those that live around or work in hookah bars, the statement said. 

While the bill grandfathers in hookah lounges where 50 percent or more of their revenue comes from the sale of non-tobacco smoking products, those businesses will now have to meet basic health and safety requirements, including installing ventilation systems and sanitizing the pipes and mouth pieces used.

New fire safety code measures will also be imposed and the new permit required for these businesses will be revoked if the lounge is found to lace tobacco into the shisha. Under a different bill also passed by the City Council and signed into law by de Blasio, signage of the dangerous health effects of hookah smoke must also be posted. 

Community 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann, who was also instrumental in seeing this bill pass, said that she was aware of 14 hookah bars, lounges or restaurants, all independently owned and operated, that offer hookahs within Community Board 10.

Beckmann said that because many of the buildings in Bay Ridge were constructed at the turn of the century, there have been many complaints over the years from residential tenants above the lounges and businesses adjoining the establishments regarding secondhand smoke and odors permeating from the hookah bars.

The new bill prohibits entry to those under 21 as a way to protect young people from smoking in public places and to underscore NYC’s effort to de-normalize smoking.

“Today we once and for all ‘clean the air’ on the dangers of hookah smoking,” said Gentile. “This legislation has been a seven-year journey to a vote and I am proud that it has passed by a wide margin in the City Council and is now signed into law today by Mayor de Blasio.” 

The law will go into effect in six months.