City Council members postponed deciding how the statewide anti-smoking legislation passed in July impacts the city’s hookah bars Tuesday, after debating the issue until 11 p.m.
The evening’s debate didn’t seem to be whether Fort Collins’ two bars – Algiers on Laurel Street and Narghile Nights on College Avenue – could remain open, but where the city should draw the line on future bars.
“I’m not interested in putting the two hookah bars out of business,” said Councilman Kelly Ohlson.
The council was divided over a number of issues. First, they were not sure if they wanted to create specific guidelines so that more hookah bars could open in the future or if they simply wanted to grandfather the two existing businesses.
“We cannot create a monopoly. It’s a legal substance and people should be able to enjoy it,” said Councilman Diggs Brown.
Under the Colorado Clean Indoor Act, which was enacted in July, smoking indoors is banned with the exception of cigar bars.
Some community members voiced their concerns about the health risks associated with hookah.
“I don’t want any of these bars. I think they are targeting our youth,” said Jennifer Corrigan of Colorado Tobacco Education and Prevention Alliance.
Aria Khosravi, co-owner of Narghile Nights, disagreed.
“If you are over 18 and you can fight for your country and put your life on the line, you should be able to smoke freely and make that conscious decision,” he said.
Council members discussed the possibility of limiting floor space for smoking in the bars, as well as establishing a percentage of sales for outside consumption.
Still, hookah bar owners remained optimistic.
“(The council members) seem like they are on the right track,” said Alan Blue, co-owner of Narghile Nights, “we’ll find a way for both of us to be happy.”
The City Council will resume the issue at the next regular meeting at 6 p.m. on Sept. 19 at 300 La Porte Ave.
News editor Sara Crocker contributed to this story.
Staff writer Rebecca Howard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.