Smoking waterpipes or hookahs may be outlawed in Hamilton if the city enacts a bylaw banning the pastime. A staff report to the Board of Health says there are approximately ten hookah bars in Hamilton where waterpipe use is allowed. Smoking indoors has been banned in Ontario for years but the ban applied to smoking tobacco, Hookah enthusiasts got around the issue by smoking a herbal blend, though staff said tobacco was detected in the water pipes locally during inspections. Aside from the obvious second-hand smoke danger the staff report says the use of waterpipes is prevalent among younger people. Past year use for waterpipe smoking in 2019 was approximately 10% for Grade 12 Ontario students, while usage decreases with decreasing age. And as is the case with vaping, appealing fruit and candy flavors, misperception of harms, accessibility, and social use are contributing factors to waterpipe use among youth. Peel Region Public Health identified that 72% waterpipe establishment patrons were between ages 18 and 24 and Niagara Region Public Health found that use of waterpipes was highest among those aged 17 to 24 years.
Staff are recommending a robust public consultation be conducted before deciding on a bylaw banning the practice, but they point out that several Ontario cities have enacted bylaws and that they have been upheld in court challenges.
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