Tobacco and Teens
The recent popularity of hookah bars in San Diego and throughout California raises both legal and public health concerns. From the public health perspective, these establishments contribute to health problems related to tobacco use. From the legal perspective, many hookah bars are out of compliance with Labor Code (LC) Section 6404.5, the California Smoke-free Workplace Act, which makes indoor smoking in virtually all hookah bars illegal.
A hookah is a water pipe that originated in India. It is also referred to as a Nargile, Shisha or "Hubble Bubble" pipe, or Turkish water pipe. Tobacco is burned in a bowl and the smoke is drawn through a water container that is designed to cool and filter it. The smoked product is a combination of tobacco, molasses, and flavors such as strawberry, apricot, mango, banana, grape, double apple, and mint. The pipes are passed around to patrons, who use separate mouthpieces to inhale the tobacco.
The use of hookah pipes is not considered a safe alternative to cigarette smoking. It has been reported to cause oral, esophageal, and lung cancer, as well as heart disease and nicotine addiction.
It is critical that law enforcement be aware of the proliferation of hookah bars and to recognize when they are operating illegally.