Overseeing Hookah Lounges

A legislative committee is expected to vote on a bill that would toughen regulation of hookah lounges, the increasingly popular establishments where customers smoke flavored tobacco and herbs.

The General Assembly’s Public Health Committee is scheduled to vote Friday on a bill that would prohibit smoking in hookah lounges created after July 1, 2011. The same bill requires the Departmentof Public Health to establish new regulations for lounges operating before July 1.

Milford’s health director Dr. Dennis McBride recently told lawmakers he is concerned about the health risks of sharing hookah pipes and says there is no proven, safe way to clean and sanitize them. But the owner of the Shish Kebab House in West Hartford, says hookahs are a long-held tradition in Middle Eastern culture and there are already enough regulations.

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