San Franciscans may soon be hard pressed to find a lounge to gather with friends to partake of the long practiced, much-loved tradition of smoking hookah. The city’s public health department is finally cracking down on approximately 17 hookah lounges that defy the law by allowing indoor smoking.
Dream Hookah Lounge on Polk Street received orders to become a hookah-less establishment. The lounge was instructed to remove “all tobacco and tobacco products and discontinue smoking through tobacco pipes,” stated Janine Young, senior environmental health inspector for the public health department. It is a request some may find difficult to wrap their heads around as “hookah” is in the business’s title.
Cafe Chanta on Post Street and Cairo Nights on Geary Street are just two more of the hookah-based business being affected by the enforcement. Cafe Chanta has until July 19th to purge their facility of all smoking equipment, and if they fail to comply they could be slammed with a fee of up to $500 according to Young. Cairo Nights on the other hand has already had their permit suspended for 30 days beginning July 28th.
While some residents are delighted by the potential positive changes the departure of hookah from San Francisco may bring, hookah lounge owners are concerned for their livelihoods.
“Of course I’m going to sue,” Cairo Nights owner Khaled Hegazy said. He admits he will no longer be selling hookah and is considering remodeling the space into a lounge, though he is not the least bit pleased about the alteration.
Hookah aficionados of San Francisco would be wise to strike before the hookah coals burn out for good.