Bars and restaurants that allow the use of hookahs may soon face a citywide ban.
Toronto’s licensing and standards committee met on Thursday to debate the possibility of banning hookahs from licensed establishments.
The report recommends provisions that prohibit anyone from using a hookah in any premises or vehicles in the city. The committee debate ended in a split vote and will now be brought to city council without recommendations. There are more than 60 businesses in Toronto that allow the use of hookahs.
Dr. David McKeown, the city’s chief medical officer of health, said there are toxic properties in hookah that could pose a risk to users similar to cigarettes. “What we’ve learned from looking at scientific studies of hookah users … the toxins that are inhaled are hazardous to health and have similar effects to other kinds of air pollutants or tobacco smoking, in that they can cause respiratory disease, they can cause heart disease,” McKeown said.
In 1999, Toronto bars, restaurants and other establishments were mandated to have designated smoking sections occupying a maximum of 25 per cent of floor space, according to Statistics Canada.
In June 2001, smoking was banned in restaurants and bowling alleys, but designated smoking rooms were still allowed.
Three years later, smoking was banned in all public places, but smoking sections were permitted in restaurants, bars, billiard halls, bowling alleys, casinos and bingo halls. It wasn’t until May 2006 when the Smoke Free Ontario Act was put in place, which prohibited in all enclosed workplaces and public places. The hookah debate will be brought to city council on Nov. 3.
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