Wasserpfeifen egypt hookah wholesale shisha Egyptian hookah factory , Egyptian shisha manufacture, hookah manufacture Egypt, hookah supplier, shisha exporter, shisha supplier, chicha, sheesha, hooka, huka, Egyptian shisha charcoal , hookah coal, hookah charcoal, hookah tobacco, molasses shisha accessories supply hookah bars , hookah lounge cafe
 
- About us Hookah Articles wholesale - site map - Contact us
 
 
 
A Cultural History Faces Stringent Smoking Laws "New York City"
By COREY KILGANNON
Published: March 9, 2004
The new yourk times
Of the roughly 20 hookah bars in New York City, about half are clustered along a short stretch of Steinway Street in Astoria, Queens, known as Little Egypt. Here in the hazy cafes, owned mostly by Egyptian immigrants, men smoke fruit-flavored tobacco called shisha through water pipes called hookahs as they banter in Arabic, play chess or backgammon, or simply pass the day in a fragrant fog.

But big trouble has come to Little Egypt, causing the kind of jitters more often associated with the cigarette habit. Hookah shop owners say the city's Health Department has begun sending agents to Steinway Street to aggressively enforce the stringent smoking laws that took effect last spring -- laws the owners had thought they could quietly sidestep.

Ali Mohamed and Moustafa Elgohry, Egyptian immigrants who own a shisha cafe on Steinway Street near 25th Avenue, said they had received six summonses from the city in recent months, one resulting in a $1,200 fine. ''We charge $4 for a smoke,'' Mr. Mohamed said. ''Do you know how many shishas I have to sell to make that back?''

When the smoking ban first took effect a year ago, the two men said, they received sporadic summonses, several of which were dismissed by the Health Department's administrative tribunal. ''But they've been very aggressive lately,'' Mr. Mohamed said. ''Two weeks ago, they sent their guys to every shisha shop on the block. It's harassment.''

Mr. Elgohry said enforcement agents had warned customers in his shop that they, too, would be ticketed if caught smoking. ''They've scared some of our customers away,'' Mr. Mohamed said. ''We're hard-working people trying to earn a living. I worked 20 years driving a cab for the money to open this store. Now they're trying to close us down.''

The owners have enlisted the help of their councilman, Peter Vallone Jr., who wrote to the city's health commissioner last week arguing that the shisha cafes are no different than the cigar bars that qualify for a legal exemption from the smoking laws. Mr. Vallone said that city law allows smoking if the bars draw at least 10 percent of their revenue from the sale of tobacco. Most of the shisha café owners say they earn well over half their revenue from tobacco.

But a Health Department official said yesterday that the cigar-bar exemption applied only to places that sell alcohol.

Elliott S. Marcus, an assistant commissioner, said, "Hookah establishments may apply for an exemption as a tobacco bar -- which by definition is an establishment where the sale of food is incidental, at least 40 percent of gross receipts are from the sale of alcohol, and at least 10 percent of gross receipts are from the sale of tobacco products or the rental of humidors.

"To date, the department has not received any tobacco bar applications from hookah establishments," he said, adding that they were therefore subject to the city smoking ban.

The cafe owners said they would not serve alcohol because most of their customers were Muslims, who do not drink.

''I've asked that the city give them exclusion from the smoking laws because they fit into a cigar bar exemption,'' Mr. Vallone said last week. ''The only difference is that they don't serve alcohol, but should they be punished for that?''

The cafe owners contend that hookah smoking is a vital part of their culture. And their shops were instrumental, they say, in transforming what was a downtrodden block several years ago into a bustling commercial strip where shops stay open late at night and people mill about on the street the way they do in downtown Cairo.

Many of the cafes draw their largest crowds well past midnight. Egyptians, Algerians, Tunisians and others, mostly men, sit next to tall ornate water pipes, sipping juices, coffee or strong tea between puffs. Some like the tobacco dipped in molasses or flavored with fruits or spices. A full pipe usually costs $4 and can last an hour.

Muhamed Bashir, who owns a restaurant on Steinway Street that offers shisha smoking, said: ''We get customers from all over -- Long Island, Connecticut, New Jersey. But they would not come if we didn't have smoking.''

Of the roughly 20 hookah bars in New York City, about half are clustered along a short stretch of Steinway Street in Astoria, Queens, known as Little Egypt. Here in the hazy cafes, owned mostly by Egyptian immigrants, men smoke fruit-flavored tobacco called shisha through water pipes called hookahs as they banter in Arabic, play chess or backgammon, or simply pass the day in a fragrant fog.

But big trouble has come to Little Egypt, causing the kind of jitters more often associated with the cigarette habit. Hookah shop owners say the city's Health Department has begun sending agents to Steinway Street to aggressively enforce the stringent smoking laws that took effect last spring -- laws the owners had thought they could quietly sidestep.

Ali Mohamed and Moustafa Elgohry, Egyptian immigrants who own a shisha cafe on Steinway Street near 25th Avenue, said they had received six summonses from the city in recent months, one resulting in a $1,200 fine. ''We charge $4 for a smoke,'' Mr. Mohamed said. ''Do you know how many shishas I have to sell to make that back?''

When the smoking ban first took effect a year ago, the two men said, they received sporadic summonses, several of which were dismissed by the Health Department's administrative tribunal. ''But they've been very aggressive lately,'' Mr. Mohamed said. ''Two weeks ago, they sent their guys to every shisha shop on the block. It's harassment.''

Mr. Elgohry said enforcement agents had warned customers in his shop that they, too, would be ticketed if caught smoking. ''They've scared some of our customers away,'' Mr. Mohamed said. ''We're hard-working people trying to earn a living. I worked 20 years driving a cab for the money to open this store. Now they're trying to close us down.''

The owners have enlisted the help of their councilman, Peter Vallone Jr., who wrote to the city's health commissioner last week arguing that the shisha cafes are no different than the cigar bars that qualify for a legal exemption from the smoking laws. Mr. Vallone said that city law allows smoking if the bars draw at least 10 percent of their revenue from the sale of tobacco. Most of the shisha café owners say they earn well over half their revenue from tobacco.

But a Health Department official said yesterday that the cigar-bar exemption applied only to places that sell alcohol.

Elliott S. Marcus, an assistant commissioner, said, "Hookah establishments may apply for an exemption as a tobacco bar -- which by definition is an establishment where the sale of food is incidental, at least 40 percent of gross receipts are from the sale of alcohol, and at least 10 percent of gross receipts are from the sale of tobacco products or the rental of humidors.

"To date, the department has not received any tobacco bar applications from hookah establishments," he said, adding that they were therefore subject to the city smoking ban.

The cafe owners said they would not serve alcohol because most of their customers were Muslims, who do not drink.

''I've asked that the city give them exclusion from the smoking laws because they fit into a cigar bar exemption,'' Mr. Vallone said last week. ''The only difference is that they don't serve alcohol, but should they be punished for that?''

The cafe owners contend that hookah smoking is a vital part of their culture. And their shops were instrumental, they say, in transforming what was a downtrodden block several years ago into a bustling commercial strip where shops stay open late at night and people mill about on the street the way they do in downtown Cairo.

Many of the cafes draw their largest crowds well past midnight. Egyptians, Algerians, Tunisians and others, mostly men, sit next to tall ornate water pipes, sipping juices, coffee or strong tea between puffs. Some like the tobacco dipped in molasses or flavored with fruits or spices. A full pipe usually costs $4 and can last an hour.

Muhamed Bashir, who owns a restaurant on Steinway Street that offers shisha smoking, said: ''We get customers from all over -- Long Island, Connecticut, New Jersey. But they would not come if we didn't have smoking.''

Resource : http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9504E6DB173EF93AA35750C0A9629C8B63&sec=health&spon=&pagewanted=1
 
 
   

Copyright -2006 © Egyptian-hookah.com, All Rights Reserved