That question came before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen Tuesday evening.
A hookah is an instrument generally used for smoking flavored tobacco. It includes a water basin through which the smoke passes before inhalation.
Alex Al-Quawwas, owner of JT’s Falafel and Kababs on Highway 72, told the board he is interested in expanding his business with a hookah lounge, in which people would be able to smoke a non-tobacco product using a hookah. The issue before the board is whether this type of activity is a violation of the city’s public smoking ban.
“I want to do it right and do it legally,” said Al-Quawwas.
He said hookah lounges are popular in some areas as they allow people to enjoy smoking after a meal.
“Basically it’s honey with molasses,” he said, describing the non-tobacco product he would offer for smoking.
He showed a sample of the product made by Al-Fakher to the board. He said he would supply the hookahs, which he described as like a water pipe; people would not bring hookahs to the business.
Examining the packaging, City Attorney Wendell Trapp said it does indicate non-tobacco and “it does say components of natural plants.”
“The smoking ordinance, what Alex is talking about, here defines smoking as using tobacco basically in any form,” said Trapp. “I think his suggestion is this is not tobacco, therefore it is not a violation of the smoking ordinance.”
He requested more information on the product in order to make a determination. Al-Quawwas said it would be the only smoking product his business would offer.
He said the “smoke” produced is steam, like that produced by an electronic cigarette.
The board tabled the request for further study.