Shisha bars allowed to smoke herbal products, only -AB
2007-02-13 By SHAWN LOGAN, SUN MEDIA
Calgary shisha bars can continue to allow patrons to smoke herbal products after the city’s law department ruled a sweeping smoking ban only encompasses cracking down on tobacco.
The city’s chief lawyer, Paul Tolley, said the smoking ban, which doesn’t allow anyone to light up in a public place, is aimed at protecting health and as long as shisha bars continue the practice of smoking flavoured leaves through water pipes, they are in compliance.
“The bylaw as it’s drafted is a public health bylaw and there’s no evidence about herbal smoke or other types of materials showing they’re a hazard,” Tolley said.
“We just wanted to discuss it and be sure of the interpretation because it’s not a crystal clear bylaw.”
A local shisha bar, Ice Classics at 12 Ave. and Macleod Tr., was slapped with a $1,000 fine last month after inspectors deemed smoking was being allowed for those who were not members of the business, which was seeking private club status that would exempt it from the bylaw.
But with the law department’s ruling, the fine may be dropped and all three city shisha bars will now be allowed to carry on with their business as long as no tobacco is used, said Tolley.
“We will certainly monitor these places and make sure there’s no loopholes being used in the bylaw,” Tolley said, adding the ruling is an interpretation, not an exemption and he doesn’t expect any will try and use the decision to get around the bylaw.
Ald. Joe Ceci, who along with Ald. Madeleine King called for the law department review, said he is pleased with the decision because council had set its sights exclusively on tobacco and didn’t want to hurt other businesses.
“I think the interpretation is a proper one because council, in its wisdom, was concerned about second hand tobacco smoke,” he said.
“The shisha bars seem to have just been caught up in the crossfire.”
Hookah bars want exemption from Calgary’s smoking ban -AB
December 18, 2006
The owners of Calgary’s hookah bars want an exemption from the city’s new smoking bylaw.
The ban on smoking in most public places passed in October and goes into effect Jan. 1.
As it stands, the bylaw would mean customers at bars such as Cafe Mediterranean would no longer be able to smoke flavoured tobacco using a water pipe known as a hookah.
Majed Abdo, the owner of Cafe Mediterranean, told CBC News that he hopes to convince the city to give him an exemption from the bylaw based on cultural grounds.
“They’re not realizing the background of this hookah, what the culture is behind it,” he said. “We have to let them know by meeting with them.”
Hookah bars have been an important part of Middle Eastern culture for centuries, he said, adding that half of the business at his cafe is from people coming to smoke the water pipes.
Bill Bruce, Calgary’s director of bylaw services, said unless an exemption is granted, the bars will be in violation of the bylaw.
“I’m afraid it puts their business at risk,” he said.
The city is discussing options with hookah bar owners. However, it will be up to city council to decide whether to grant the bars an exemption, Bruce said.
Bars and restaurants with separate smoking rooms, along with casinos and bingo halls have already been given a one-year exemption.