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Hookah bars banned from opening in NYC, minimum age to use raised to 21

NEW YORK — New York took a step toward stamping out hookah bars Monday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio added hookah to the city’s indoor smoking ban. Already existing hookah bars will only be allowed to stay open if at least half their revenue is hookah-related sales. They’ll also be required to display signs with the risks of hookah listed.

Users often think hookah is less harmful than cigarettes, but they share many of the same health risks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The smoke from a hookah is at least as toxic as cigarette smoke.

“Many people underestimate the health risks of hookah,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett. “With or without tobacco, hookah smoke releases toxic substances that are linked to cardiovascular and lung disease, including heart attacks, decreased lung function, and can lead to premature death.”

Extended hookah sessions also mean that smokers may inhale significantly more smoke than they do with cigarettes.

A separate bill de Blasio signed raised to age of use to 21.

New York has been tackling several smoking related issues recently. Mayor de Blasio also recently signed into law bills to cut down on cigarette usage.

“We have made so much progress in the use of cigarettes and now we are facing a similar challenge with hookah,” said Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez. “Today, we are taking a clear stance in protecting the health and well-being of New Yorkers.”