Ban on hookah smoking in Toronto bars and lounges starts tomorrow

Hookah lovers only have until tonight to enjoy one last puff at their favourite Toronto bar and lounge.
Hookah lovers only have until tonight to enjoy one last puff at their favourite Toronto bar and lounge. Photo: Shutterstock.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it: starting tomorrow you are no longer allowed to enjoy the smooth flavour of herbs smoked through a water pipe, also known as hookah, in a bar or lounge in Toronto courtesy of a new city bylaw.

So far, bar and lounge owners have been able to avoid the indoor smoking ban in Toronto by offering non-tobacco herbal blends, but city councillors didn’t like the idea of smoking anything indoors.

Last November, the motion to ban the hookah indoors was passed by city council by a vote of 34-3.

Critics of the ban say the city is ignoring the fact hookah smoking is a social practice in the Middle East and North Africa and this ban is culturally insensitive.

However, licensing chairman Cesar Palacio supported the ban and told the Globe and Mail, “smoking is smoking.”

By banning the water pipe, Toronto joins Quebec, Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island in public bans of hookah smoking.

The ban came on the heels of a Board of Health report that highlighted the harmful effects of the practice on the health of consumers, the public, and workers.

So far about 70 businesses will be affected, and about 42 businesses have already been issued letters of warning about the ban.

Given the amount of cities who have already issued a ban on indoor hookah smoking, does this mean more cities will jump on the ban bandwagon?

The city could have looked at alternatives in place of issuing a ban. Why not just license and regulate specific establishments for the practice and limit how much of the herbal-only blend is being sold to customers over the age of majority?

Unfortunately for hookah lovers in Toronto the time for debate has run out, and they only have until tonight to enjoy one last puff at their favourite Toronto bar and lounge.

Find a Lawyer