Three years after the state prohibited smoking in public places, Chicago hookah venues are most spread than ever.
Employing a loophole that permits owners to smoke inside tobacco shops, a lot of exotic smoking dens have raised in the city since the Smoke Free Illinois Act was adopted in 2008, causing enough worries to some health officials.
Concerned by the opening of its first hookah venue, Skokie is the first community to tighten up restrictions in an effort to eradicate the trend.
“We do not want to go back. We don’t want to have smoking in our community,” stated Dr. A. Michael Drachler, chairman of Skokie’s Board of Health.
Becoming more and more popular among teenagers in recent years, hookah originated from India nearly five centuries ago and till now remains a favorite pastime. The often decorated devices use charcoal in order to heat a bowl of flavored tobacco, thus producing smoke that is inhaled through a tube.
About 50 hookah venues are straggling through Chicago and its suburbs.
Illinois law bans smoking in workplaces, restaurants and bars, but tobacco stores are exempt if more than 80% of revenue is received from the sale of tobacco products and accessories. The stores should file annual affidavit with the Illinois Department of Public Health to permit business owners to partake indoors.
“There were cafes and restaurants in town that were permitted to smoke for years and then we ceased them from doing it, and these new venues came in and we stated you can smoke in there. With the urge for smoke-free environments, we just supposed that it was the most appropriate thing to do,” declared Mayor Randy Keller.
About the same time, Palos Hills implemented a tough Cook County ordinance banning smoking in all enclosed public places.
“It became a hangout,” stated Palos Hills Mayor Gerald Bennett.
Often mixed up with fruit and herbs, hookah tobacco is considered safer by adherents, who underline their lower nicotine and tar levels than in regular cigarettes, and the potential filtering advantages of a water pipe.
A regular cigarette possesses more tar and nicotine, but it is burned within five minutes, with about 300 to 500 milliliters of smoke inhaled, according to a research. Hookah session can last for hours, with 10 liters or even more inhaled.
The researches also stated that sharing a water pipe may raise the risk of transmission of tuberculosis and other viruses as herpes or hepatitis.
“It is very pleasant and relaxing. In stead of going to a bar you can simply come here and enjoy it with you friends,” stated Tammy Najjar, a credit analyst.