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Utah House committee OKs hookah ban

Publication Date: 2012-02-09
  • Author:Robert Gehrke
  • Publication:Salt Lake Tribune

A House committee approved a bill Thursday banning the use of hookahs and electronic cigarettes in public places, but gave a five-year exemption to hookah bars and e-cigarette shops.

"I think this is a very good place to start regulating, making sure we protect the public," said Rep. Brad Last, R-Hurricane, the sponsor of HB245.

Currently, the hookahs and e-cigarettes fall into a gray area, since Utah’s Indoor Clean Air Act only bans igniting tobacco. Hookahs heat tobacco and e-cigarettes vaporize a liquid with nicotine, but neither ignites tobacco.

Last had proposed banning hookahs and e-cigarettes in public places immediately, but met resistance from the Huka Bar & Grill and others.

The Murray hookah bar said the ban would shut down the business and put 90 people out of work. Last negotiated the 5-year exemption for the Huka Bar and e-cigarette shops, but the parties still weren’t thrilled and pushed to make it permanent.