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City Councilman Wants To Block New Hookah Bars

by Chiara Wegener
Karma Hookah Lounge
Pedro Silva

New legislation would extend indoor smoking bans to include herbal smoke.

One New York City lawmaker wants to stymie the growth of hookah lounges in New York City. Brooklyn Councilman Vincent Gentile will introduce legislation this week to extend the city's indoor smoking ban.

Although the legislation wouldn't force existing hookah bars to close, it would keep new ones from opening. Gentile argued that the herbal smoke from hookahs can be just as addictive and dangerous as cigarette smoke. But Tommy Hawkins, assistant manager at Karma hookah lounge in Manhattan's East Village, argued hookah addiction is not a problem. "It's not as severe of an addiction as you get in cigarettes...But I understand where they're coming from. I don't have a lot of people in here addicted to hookahs."

If passed, Gentile's legislation would go into effect in 2012. He said he is open to discussion on the bill.

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