Many Hookah Bars Ignore Smoking Ban

Most bars and restaurants are obeying North Carolina's new indoor smoking ban. But the Winston-Salem Journal reports some hookah bars are ignoring the law, saying they are exempt.

Hookahs are long pipes used with flavored tobacco. Smokers heat tobacco and flavoring and use a tube to draw the smoke through a bowl of water to cool it. The newspaper reports the state had about 20 hookah bars last year.

Hookah bar owners and supporters say the tobacco is never lit, but is heated by charcoal. They point to part of the law that defines "smoking" as "the use or possession of a lighted cigarette, lighted cigar, lighted pipe, or any other lighted tobacco product."

An attorney for the Division of Public Health says hookahs fall under the "lighted pipe" definition.

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