June 1, 2009

Hookah bars facing closure in N. Carolina

An impending ban on smoking in North Carolina bars and restaurants could put hookah bars out of business, one owner says.

Hookah Bliss owner Adam Bliss said if hookah bar owners are unable to earn an exemption from state officials, they will face the possibility of losing their businesses when the ban goes into effect this coming January, The (Raleigh) News & Observer reported Monday. Exemptions have been granted to cigar bars and country clubs.

Besides the fact that this law is creating an elitist association between who can smoke and who can't, they're allowing government to put me out of business, and this is supposed to be a free-market economy here, the Chapel Hill businessman said.

But Dr. Adam Goldstein of the University of North Carolina Medical Center insists the popularity of hookahs -- water-cooled pipes used to smoke tobacco that originated in the Middle East in the 8th century -- in college towns and bigger cities does pose a health risk.

The simple fact is that hookah smoking is no better, and it may be worse, than any other smoke, the center's director of the tobacco prevention and evaluation program told The News & Observer. The only good aspect about the hookah trend is it is a blip in history that will be gone in 10 years.