FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release # 001-15
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
MEDIA CONTACT: (347) 396-4177
Jean Weinberg/Veronica Lewin: PressOffice@health.nyc.gov
Shisha samples taken at 13 establishments tested positive for nicotine
New York City’s Smoke-Free Air Act prohibits smoking substances containing tobacco in workplaces, including food service establishments
The Health Department today announced the results of an undercover investigation that found 13 hookah bars in New York City were selling shisha that contained tobacco. Hookah bars are establishments where patrons may communally smoke substances called shisha. Shisha is composed of herbs, molasses and, frequently, tobacco. Serving shisha that contains tobacco is a violation of New York City’s 2002 Smoke-Free Air Act that prohibited smoking in workplaces, including restaurants and bars.
Health Department inspectors, working with New York University students, went to 13 hookah bars on Friday, Nov. 14 and discretely took samples from the shisha that were served by the establishments. The samples were sent to Arista Laboratories, Inc. for testing to determine if the shisha contained tobacco. All of the shisha samples contained tobacco. The Health Department is commencing proceedings to revoke the permits of the bars and restaurants found selling shisha that contains tobacco to patrons to smoke in violation of the Smoke-Free Air Act.
“These 13 hookah bars are knowingly flouting the law by serving tobacco-based shisha,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett. “Tobacco smoke is dangerous for the health of the smoker, patrons and those who work in these establishments. We will not tolerate this willful disregard of New York City’s smoke-free air laws and have already taken steps to revoke the permits of these establishments.”
“The city's Smoke-Free Air Act has been in effect for over a decade, protecting millions of New Yorkers from the dangers of secondhand smoke, including that which comes from hookahs,” said Jeff Seyler President and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “We applaud the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for its efforts to ensure the law is vigorously enforced so workers and patrons of bars and restaurants throughout New York City remain healthy.”
“The American Heart Association is concerned about the evidence of illegal tobacco sales in hookah bars,” said Merle Myerson, MD, EdD, FACC, director of the Mount Sinai Roosevelt and St. Luke’s Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Program & Lipid Clinic and a member of the American Heart Association’s Advocacy Committee. “To know that tobacco was smoked inside these establishments, exposing hundreds to the dangers of secondhand smoke, is troubling. At a time when more adults are smoking at higher rates and there are fewer services available for smokers who want to quit, we must protect New Yorkers from tobacco addiction in all settings.”
For more information on the Smoke-Free Air Act or to report a smoking violation, please visit the Health Department website.