- News Release -
Edmonton - Only one in five Edmontonians support a proposal to restore hookah bars in Edmonton according to a  recent Leger public opinion survey of 506 local residents that was conducted from February 12 to 14. 

“Edmonton residents clearly reject the proposal to restore hookah bars and want City Council to stand by  its original decision to make all public establishments smoke-free” said Les Hagen of Action on Smoking  & Health (ASH). “All residents and workers deserve full protection from secondhand smoke in public  establishments” he added. “Council should not abandon public health standards to appease business  operators that already received a 15-year reprieve from the smoking bylaw. A business proposal that is  based on profiting from smoking in the workplace is a losing proposition that will continue to  compromise public health and worker safety.”

Former hookah bar operators are pressuring Council to restore smoking in their establishments with a  proposed ventilation “solution”. The City’s community service committee recently asked the  administration to prepare a report on the feasibility of the proposal which is scheduled for consideration  next month. 

“There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke and there is no practical ventilation solution”  said Nina Snyder of The Lung Association, Alberta and NWT. “North America’s leading ventilation  authority has concluded that smoking rooms are no longer feasible based on the limitations of  ventilation and the serious health hazards of secondhand smoke. We urge City Council to adhere to  sound scientific evidence and resist efforts to compromise public health and worker safety.” 

“Hospitality workers deserve full protection from secondhand smoke and they don’t have second class  lungs” said Angeline Webb of the Canadian Cancer Society. “These workers are often working in  minimum wage jobs and are reluctant to speak up and demand a smoke-free workplace. No one should  be forced to make a decision between their health and a job in this day and age—especially in the midst  of a public health pandemic”. 

Health Canada and other leading health authorities have concluded that there is no safe level of  exposure to secondhand smoke. The smoke from a waterpipe—including herbal shisha—is just as  harmful as secondhand cigarette smoke. A single hookah smoking session can produce as much  secondhand smoke as a pack of cigarettes. Waterpipe smoking is also linked to the increased  transmission of communicable illnesses including meningitis, herpes and COVID-19. For these reasons,  the World Health Organization recommends a ban on all waterpipe smoking in all workplaces and public  places.

Waterpipe smoking has been banned in all public establishments since July 2020 and hookah bars have  not been legally operating in Edmonton since that time. 

Hookah bars have been prohibited in dozens of Canadian cities including twelve Alberta municipalities.

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Angeline Webb @ 780-239-5295
Les Hagen @ 780-919-5546
Nina Snyder @ 780-224-0005