Hookah bars want smoking-law exemption

April 28, 2010 at 1:24 PM
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DETROIT, April 28 (UPI) -- Owners of hookah bars in Michigan say they should be exempt from the state's anti-smoking law, which bans smoking anywhere food is served.

The law takes effect Saturday.

The National Heritage Association, which represents 120 hookah bars, says smoking and eating are part of the experience, The Detroit New reports. The association argues forcing the bars to choose between them is unfair to the state's large Arab-American community.

Sami Bazzi of Dearborn, son of immigrants from Lebanon, says he visits hookah bars three or four times a week to chat, eat and smoke a water pipe.

"It's very, very unfair for them to say we can't sit around and socialize and smoke a hookah," he said.

The Michigan law exempts cigar bars, tobacconist shops and the gambling floors of casinos in Detroit. Emily Palsrok of the Campaign for Smoke Free Air, says there should be no more exemptions, and hookah bars can continue to offer smoking if they give up food service.

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