Corinth hookah lounge questioned on smoke-free ordinance

By Lena Mitchell

Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

CORINTH – The Corinth Board of Aldermen is assessing whether a hookah lounge recently opened in Corinth operates within the boundaries of the city’s smoke-free ordinance.

“The city ordinance specifically says all smoking is prohibited,” said Emily McGrath, spokeswoman for the Mississippi Tobacco Free Coalition in Alcorn and Tippah counties.

McGrath said it is unclear from the packaging of the products smoked in the Corinth hookah lounge whether they are tobacco-free, because some of the package wording is in a foreign language. However, the package does include a warning label similar to the one on tobacco products sold in the U.S., she said.

In a hookah lounge, which is becoming an increasingly popular social spot for young adults, water pipes are provided through which patrons smoke a product after it has contact with both water and charcoal.

McGrath noted that the charcoal product would be as harmful to inhale as tobacco is, and not only Corinth residents and patrons should be protected, but also employees at the business.

JT’s Falafal and Kabob Mediterranean Cuisine on U.S. 72 recently added the bar and grill designation. Owner Alex Al-Quawwas described the hookah to city board members in October as similar to electronic cigarettes.

Since hookah lounges have become popular nationwide, some cities are evaluating possible revisions to their non-smoking ordinances to address this niche market, and McGrath provided board members a copy of a model ordinance prepared by Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights.

The board has taken the issue under advisement.

lena.mitchell@journalinc.com