In what seems to be an odd bit of legislation that slipped through almost unnoticed, the state legislature's Planning and Development Committee narrowly (11-10) passed along a bill to the Senate that will ban new hookah lounges from opening as a significant health risk.
Hookah lounges represent a relatively small portion of the remaining venues where smoking is currently permitted in the state. Cigar lounges are demonstrably more widespread, yet as far as I know, there haven't been any proposals to limit their spread.
Hmmm...maybe there's some kind of difference between the clientele of the two types of establishments...let's see...cigar bars are often frequented by white American male smokers. Hookah lounges are often frequented by men with Middle Eastern backgrounds.
So while there is a preponderance of cigar lounges when compared to hookah lounges; and assuming that evidence exists that cigars don't consist solely of vitamins A, B, and other essential nutrients; and in fact can give the smoker in question a giant case of cancer, it seems silly to pass a law that only restricts hookah lounges.
Unless, of course, there's a reason besides "significant health risks" for creating a law that would essentially stop those terrible awful swarthy gentlemen from enjoying a bit of tobacco, which, by the way, is still legal in so many various forms that I'm sure a person could legally apply it to every square inch of their body exposed to the air, including the lining of their lungs and the soft tissue in their mouths.
But hookah lounges are the risk that we, the people of Connecticut, must be protected from.
Excuse me, but this is the biggest load of bullshit I've seen emanate from Hartford since the last dairy farm closed there!
(yes, I know dairy cows technically don't produce "bullshit", being that they are females, but I simply wanted to use a colorful phrase to amplify my point!)
The Courant has more:
Rep. Kim Rose, D-Milford, a member of the planning and development committee, compared hookah lounges to cigar bars. "I understand the health concerns, but if somebody wants to smoke at a hookah lounge, it's their right,'' she said.Here in Milford, the Planning & Zoning Committee has successfully rejected a proposed hookah lounge their permit due to parking constraints. It seems odd that they previously allowed all manner of businesses to open in the same strip mall, including a popular bar and several well-frequented businesses.
Rose said she questioned how many tuberculosis cases had been linked to hookah smoking but never received an answer. She said she favored regulations so smokers are aware of the risk but did not support an outright ban.
Hookah smoking is a centuries-old tradition in the Middle East. Patrons gather in lounges to talk, drink tea and puff on hoses connected to large water pipes whose bowls are filled with flavored tobacco. In recent years, several such businesses have opened in the state, while others have been rejected by local authorities.
It's very puzzling to me. And kind of sad.