Have you ever been a member of a culture that is smaller than those around you? For many years, smoking shisha has been a welcome social pastime in many European countries. Before it got popular in Europe, it was a huge sensation for around 500 years in India, Turkey, and Egypt. Some Middle-Eastern cultures took nargile very seriously in older times, and valued such a social experience over anything else during the day. One would not dare disrupt a shisha cafe 100 years ago.

Now that smoking hookah is popular is the United States, people have mixed opinions about its place in society. Typically, most Americans think they know what is best for society as a whole, and disregard individual opinions and beliefs. Most Americans forget this country was founded on the emphasized freedom of the individual. In that sense, many Americans now like to remove what other people find as a simple and fun activity.

In Seattle, Washington, there is now a war being waged on hookah lounges. There are currently 11 hookah lounges in Seattle, and the city is trying to shut them all down. For a little backing to this story, it is indeed illegal to smoke in establishments indoors in Seattle; there is a city ordinance ban on the activity. From that standpoint, it is not legal to own a hookah lounge in Seattle. That being said, these establishments have made many efforts to stay within the law by making themselves private clubs, which means you have to be a member to be in the lounge.

While I disagree with dodging the law with loopholes, the city has given these businesses no other choice. I believe that it is indeed a constitutional right to smoke tobacco, and it should be allowed in a tobacco smoking establishment. People who don’t like tobacco smoking do not have to go inside these places. There are ways to balance the scales in a way that makes everyone “happy enough”.

The tipping point for Seattle was reached a couple weeks ago, when a fatal shooting occurred outside a hookah lounge in downtown. The mayor is blaming this on the hookah lounges. He says that since bars close down earlier than hookah lounges, the late night crowds are gathering at lounges and causing all sorts of trouble. This should apply to any late night establishment, not just hookah lounges. Violent crime is bound to increase late at night or early in the morning. I do not believe this is anything other than a war waged against tobacco, and they are using violent crime as a veil to their true purposes. On top of that, I would venture to say this is an attack on businesses owned by people from the Middle-East. As a tobacco smoker, I can only hope the city realizes how biased they sound and accept there are better solutions than an outright ban.

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