From the Queens Chronicle:
State legislation barring minors from hookah smoking or buying hookah-related products went into effect on Jan. 1, after Gov. Cuomo signed the bill into law last July.
The legislation regulates a product and business trade that until now has gone largely unregulated.
Hookahs are waterpipes traditionally used in Middle Eastern countries for smoking “shisha,” a fruity, herbal substance that can contain tobacco. Hookah bars and shops selling hookah products are prevalent throughout New York and Queens.
Regulating hookah smoking became a hot-button issue in recent years after the practice experienced a surge in popularity, especially among young people.
Many believe smoking shisha is less harmful than tobacco, or that smoking tobacco through a waterpipe is better for you than smoking cigarettes. But a 2005 study from the World Health Organization found that hookah smoking carries the same health risks as cigarette smoking.
Hookah smoking is popular in many neighborhoods, including Astoria. Hookah lounges and shops line Steinway Street, from 25th to 28th avenues.
“People do say there’s no tobacco in it,” said Sheelah Feinberg, the director of the NYC Coalition for a Smoke-Free City. Regardless, she added, “there’s so many chemicals that go into it, that [it] harms your lung system.”