Metro Morning

Lawyer prepares to challenge Toronto hookah smoking ban

Toronto lounge owners are going to court to challenge a municipal bylaw banning hookah smoking in bars and cafes because they believe the city is shutting down the industry.

Lawyer for hookah lounge owners says 'city of Toronto doesn't have unlimited power'

Toronto's ban on hookah smoking at bars and cafes began April 1st. (CBC)

Toronto lounge owners are going to court to challenge a municipal bylaw banning hookah smoking in bars and cafes because they believe the city is shutting down the industry.

Lawyer Ryan Zigler, who is representing four hookah lounge owners, said he plans to argue that the city doesn't have the power under the City of Toronto Act to ban hookah smoking because it is, in effect, prohibiting a lawful business. He will be in court June 24.

"The city of Toronto doesn't have unlimited power," Zigler told Metro Morning on Thursday. "They are banning the business. They are shutting down the industry."

'Economic devastation'

Zigler said the ban will cause "economic devastation" and that it will affect 40 people and their families. 

"What it will mean, if it's not overturned, is the closure of their businesses, the loss of their livelihood," he said. "For many of them, it means the loss of their life savings. Two of my clients are over the age of 50 and it means they will be without a means of support."

Zigler said that the city has the ability to regulate what it sees as "hazardous products," which would be a more appropriate step than a ban. 

"But they are not doing that," he said.

Peel Region plans to enforce a hookah ban in the fall. (CBC)

The city has agreed not to issue tickets until July 1st. 

City council voted to ban the popular water pipes last November, months after a Toronto Public Health report argued the practice poses health risks.

Toronto's medical officer of health, David McKeown, suggested hookah smoking is especially dangerous for young people who may think it's a somewhat safer form of smoking than cigarettes.    


What do you think?

Metro Morning would love to hear your thoughts on this issue now that Toronto's ban will be in effect and a similar one will happen in the Peel region this fall. Do those bans go too far — or are they justified?

You can call the Metro Morning Vox Box at 416-205-5807, or reach us on Twitter @metromorning and on Facebook.

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