The ban on hookah lounges narrowly survived a challenge at Ontario’s top court, establishments that continue to offer water pipes could be setting themselves up for hefty penalties.
Toronto city council passed the ban in December 2015 after the then-medical officer of health stressed the health hazards associated with pipes, burning tobacco or other substances including molasses as well the risks posed to those inhaling second-hand smoke.
A three-judge panel of the Ontario Court of Appeal has upheld a lower court decision rejecting lounge owners’ arguments that the city overstepped its powers and was unfairly putting them out of business.
While it was under appeal, city staff refrained from taking any action against lounges offering hookah, but going forward it will be a different story.
Hookah lounges have in recent years become very popular across the GTA with young and trendy Middle-Eastern immigrants as well as others who’ve been drawn to the novelty. This ban will no doubt be devastating to many businesses that revolve around giving its customers the option of enjoying hookah over a lazy meal. – CINEWS