Pols' Plans To Ban Hookah Bolstered By Recent Study

Toni-Ann Restivo, 25, is a former hookah smoker who won a top prize at a national competition for her research on hookah smoking and it's effect on health.
Restivo (Source: NYDailyNews.com)

A Bensonhurst native has put together a study that could fuel the efforts of local politicians to ban hookah sales to minors, and even prohibit them from indoor establishments.

The 25-year-old graduate student at New York City College of Technology, Toni-Ann Restivo, has produced research some say shatters the myth that smoking a hookah is healthier than smoking cigarettes.

The Daily News explains:

Restivo took third place in a national competition sponsored by the American Dental Hygienists’ Association this month for her report on the effects of smoking hookah and a rolled tobacco cigarette called bidi.
Despite popular belief, scientists have recently discovered that hookah smoke contains at least two cancer-causing elements – and can be just as addictive as cigarettes, says a recent Harvard Medical School study.
“Basically, the carcinogens that are found in hookahs are irritating all the tissues found in the mouth,” said Restivo, a Staten Island College graduate. “Basically they believe soon they’re going to find a direct link to oral cancer.”
… Someone who smokes a hookah for 45 minutes to an hour at a rate of two 10-second puffs per minute is inhaling 10%-to-50% more nicotine, says a 2009 study published in the Current Science journal.

That research could help push along legislation from local pols. Just two weeks ago, State Senator Marty Golden and Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny announced the passage of legislation they sponsored that would ban the sale of hookahs and water pipes to minors, as well as herbal cigarettes, shishas, rolling paper or smoking paraphernalia. They were concerned that minors were turning to these as alternatives to smoking cigarettes.

“This legislation is vital for the protection of our children. We have made great strides in educating young people about the dangers of cigarettes. However, in our community, hookah and water pipes are a dangerous and unfortunately available alternative means for smoking tobacco,” said Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny.

The bill is now under consideration by Governor Cuomo, and, if signed, will go into effect on January 1, 2012.

Meanwhile, Bay Ridge Councilman Vincent Gentile is taking attacks on hookah usage one step further, seeking to amend existing legislation to ban hookah usage wherever cigarette smoking is currently prohibited. He has introduced legislation in the New York City Council seeking to make the 2002 Clean Indoor Air Act consistent with all kinds of smoke, banning the smoking of non-tobacco smoking product inside of most restaurants and bars.

What do you think? Is hookah usage dangerous enough to warrant a citywide ban?