hookah toronto

Toronto is looking to crack down on hookah smoking again

Toronto is proposing a change in how it addresses the health harms of hookah smoking by potentially banning it from all enclosed public spaces and some outdoor spaces. 

The City has launched public consultations to get residents' input on the proposed new approach to hookahs, a vaping tool used to smoke shisha that sometimes contains tobacco.

"The City of Toronto is proposing to update how it addresses the public health risk of hookah smoking by treating it the same way as other substances such as commercial tobacco, cannabis, and e-cigarettes/vapour products," their website states.

"The proposed approach is to prohibit all hookah smoking in enclosed public places, enclosed workplaces, and some outdoor spaces and enhance enforcement powers to improve compliance."

A public engagement session on the matter has already passed, but residents can fill out an anonymous online survey or email Phat Ha of Toronto Public Health until February 14. 

Toronto last updated the hookah bylaw in 2015 when city council banned its use in bars and restaurants.

The prohibition came into effect on April 1, 2016 but the City says "there are still many establishments in the City of Toronto that still offer hookah smoking today, which presents a health risk to patrons, staff, enforcement officers, and first responders."

Attempts to crack down on rogue establishments a couple of years ago was only somewhat successful.

A letter from councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam from October indicates that there are approximately 44 establishments in the city that continue to allow patrons to use hookah, 24 of which are doing so in contravention of the City's hookah-use prohibition.

"Preliminary data and analysis from Toronto Public Health (TPH) suggests that the current approach to address the public health risk of hookah-use is not meeting Council's intention," she wrote. 

"Existing enforcement powers under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act are not well suited to address the public health risk from hookah-use."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez


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