City council members will once again attempt to come to a decision on how the recent statewide smoking ban will affect Fort Collins’ two existing hookah bars – Narghile Nights on College Avenue and Algiers on Laurel Street – at tonight’s meeting.
After the smoking ban was enacted in July, it was unclear where hookah bars fit into the picture.
The city council set out to clarify the issue at the Sept. 5 meeting but decided to postpone their vote so they could discuss the issue further.
The council made revisions to the city code to create guidelines for tobacco businesses.
If passed, the proposal will require all new businesses to meet the requirements of a “retail business,” which means a majority of their revenues must come from retail sales.
The proposal also states that businesses must post a sign with the surgeon general’s warning and enact an effective system to keep people under 18 from entering.
Some residents are concerned about the health risks involved with hookah bars. Gwen Sieving, a health educator at Hartshorn Health Center, feels many students are unaware of the health risks.
“I think that students aren’t always aware of the facts,” she said. “Smoke at any level is not a good thing.”
According to Sieving, one gram of tobacco smoked in hookah pipes contains 100 times the tar and four times the nicotine of one gram of cigarette tobacco.
Charles Klamm, co-owner of Algiers, claims that this isn’t always the case.
“The tobacco that we use here has .5 percent nicotine,” he said. “It will have a trace amount (of tar) but it really has a very little amount.”
During the Sept. 5 meeting, some council members expressed interest in grandfathering the two existing hookah bars into the code and not allowing any new hookah bars to open in the future. Now they are moving in the direction of making more uniform requirements for all tobacco businesses.
This is good news to Sieving.
“Exemptions create more confusion and less compliance, and that can cause a lot of headaches for a lot of people,” she said.
Klamm is hoping the council will not place restrictions that are too harsh on his business.
“My hopes are that they won’t be so paternal that they choose to take this on and make adults as children in Fort Collins,” he said. “They shouldn’t deny adults the right to smoke.”
The meeting is set for 6 p.m. at City Hall West, 300 LaPorte Ave.
Staff writer Rebecca Howard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.