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rafe arnott/metro vancouver
Hookah smokers are fuming over proposed changes to the city’s health bylaws that could see hookah parlours vanish into a puff of smoke.
Next Thursday, Vancouver city council will be asked to vote to remove the temporary exemptions that allow the operation of cigar lounges and hookah parlours.
Removing the exemption would bring the city bylaws into line with new provincial laws that ban all indoor public smoking.
"Hookah is a part of our culture," said Abbas Ban Said, owner of Ahwaz Hookah House on West Georgia Street. "It’s been around for 300 years."
Ban Said, who came to Canada in 1990, named the hookah house after his hometown in Southwest Iran.
"As a Muslim, because of the religion, we’re not allowed to drink. We’re not allowed to go to the pub. The only thing we have, socially, is the hookah."
The new provincial laws have no exemption for hookah parlours and take effect Mar. 31. There will, however, be exemptions for ceremonial use of tobacco by Aboriginal people.