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Toronto Public Health seeks hookah ban in licensed businesses

WATCH ABOVE: Citing health concerns, Toronto Public Health is planning on recommending city council ban the use of hookahs in restaurants. As Cindy Pom reports, the water pipe ban is a growing trend among cities and provinces in Canada. 

TORONTO — Health officials are looking to crackdown on hookah use in Toronto’s licensed establishments.

Hookah cafes and bars can be found around the city, and Toronto Public Health claims hookah smoking is on the rise among young people who believe it’s “a safe form of smoking.”

“Using a hookah to smoke any substance poses health risks, such as heart and lung diseases, lung cancer and other respiratory problems to users and those exposed to second-hand smoke, including employees,” said Dr. David McKeown, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health.

READ MORE: No licensing system for Toronto hookahs yet, committee asks for updated report

A report will be presented to the Toronto Board of Health recommending that city council prohibit the use of hookahs in city-licensed establishments. The report will be presented June 1.

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While smoking tobacco is banned in establishments and workplaces under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA), hookah use has so far escaped similar regulation.

A hookah is a water pipe that can smoke tobacco or non-tobacco herbal shisha, which are often flavoured.

Toronto Public Health said researchers have found harmfully high levels of air pollution in places where hookahs are smoked, and that tobacco is sometimes served to customers without them being aware.

“Hookah use in public places undermines the success of the SFOA and other smoke-free laws because it contributes to the social acceptability of smoking in public,” said Dr. McKeown. “This change is an important step toward creating safer and healthier spaces for residents.”

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