Hookah use banned in Toronto starting April 1

Toronto city council voted Wednesday to ban the use of hookah inside licensed establishments across the city as of April 1, 2016.

Council voted 34-3 in favour of the ban, a move business owners say is discriminatory

Hookahs or waterpipes are used to smoke tobacco and other herbal products. Also known as shisha, hookah smoking is especially popular among people from Middle Eastern and North African countries.

Toronto city council has voted 34-3 to ban the use of hookah inside licensed establishments.

The move will take effect April 1 and will apply to any licensed and unlicensed establishments that allow "hookah use." 

"Smoking is smoking," Coun. Cesar Palacio, who voted in favour of the ban, told council.

In Vancouver, the whole city is smoking.- Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti

Just three councillors voted against the ban. "In Vancouver, the whole city is smoking," said Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti.

Coun. Jim Karygiannis moved a motion, proposing a new "hookah lounge" category that would permit licensed establishments to sell only non-tobacco products.

Under the proposal, only those 19 years of age or over would be allowed into the lounges and owners would be required to post signs stating the harmful effects of hookah smoking. 

Food and liquor would also not be allowed. Instead, only coffee, tea, and juice could be served.

Owners would also be required to pay a specific business licence fee in order to operate the establishments.

Hookahs or waterpipes are used to smoke tobacco and other herbal products. Also known as shisha, hookah smoking is especially popular among people from Middle Eastern and North African countries. 

In May, the city's board of health recommended hookah be banned from licensed establishments, following a Toronto Public Health report that argued the practice "poses health risks, such as heart and lung diseases, lung cancer and other respiratory problems."

In May, Toronto's medical officer of health David McKeown, suggested hookah smoking is especially dangerous for young people who may be under the mistaken impression that it is a relatively safer form of smoking than cigarettes.

Hookah lounge owners argue the ban would be discriminatory to particular communities among whom the practice is popular. 

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