A bill cracking down of the water-pipe watering holes passed the Council on Sept. 27, restricting the flavored “shisha” mixtures smoked in hookahs just like tobacco, tightly regulating existing hookah bars, banning the opening of new owns, and outlawing the practice for anyone under 21.
“Today we once and for all clear the air on the dangers of hookah smoking,” said Councilman Vincent Gentile’s (D–Bay Ridge), who sponsored the bill. “Any way you cut it, hookah smoke is no joke. It is not a safe smoking alternative, and restricting minors makes the decision to smoke up to those of adult age.”
Starting six months after the mayor signs the bill into law, even non-tobacco shisha will be subject to the city’s Smoke-Free Air Act — which bans most indoor tobacco smoking — making it illegal to smoke hookah indoors except in the bars that meet strict requirements for ventilation and other measures.
Existing hookah bars will have three years to bring their businesses up to sanitation, ventilation, and fire code requirements, and are forbidden to relocate or expand.
Hookah bars selling shisha mixtures that contain tobacco will have to obtain permits to continue operating, and all will have to prove that at least half of their profits come from shisha sales.