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TPCHD seeks injunction against Night Owl hookah lounge

October 15, 2012

TACOMA, WA  - The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department filed papers in Pierce County Superior Court today seeking an injunction against the Night Owl Lounge to stop the smoking of tobacco products in its lounge.

Located at 5211 S. Tacoma Way, the lounge permits the smoking of tobacco through hookah pipes and sells hookah accoutrements. Young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 are typically the most common patrons of hookah lounges.

“Smoking tobacco through hookah pipes has health consequences that are similar to or worse than smoking cigarettes,” said Anthony L-T Chen, MD, MPH, director of health at Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. “Establishments that promote the use of hookah pipes target a youth audience that is most vulnerable to the dangers of tobacco, and this is a threat that the Health Department takes very seriously,” he said.

The State’s Smoking in Public Places law as well as a local Board of Health resolution gives authority to the Health Department to enforce the state ban.

Hookahs are water pipes used to smoke flavored tobacco products. The inhaled smoke and the secondhand smoke created are harmful to health. In one hour hookah smokers inhale 100-200 times the volume of smoke inhaled from a single cigarette. Research has shown that after the smoke passes through the water, it still contains high levels of toxic compounds including carbon monoxide, heavy metals, and cancer-causing chemicals. It also contains 36 times more tar than found in a single cigarette.

Tobacco use continues to be the leading cause of preventable death in the nation and Washington State. Each year, about 440,000 people across the country and 1,000 in Pierce County die from tobacco related causes, making it the leading cause of death in the county. While fewer than 17 percent of all adults in Pierce County smoke tobacco, about 20 percent of high school seniors and 22 percent of young adults between 18 and 28 years of age smoke.

On Sept. 12, the health department reached a settlement with the owners of the Venus and Mars hookah lounge in Tacoma to stop the smoking of tobacco products in their lounge.

Today’s action reinforces the Department’s concerted effort to eliminate smoking in public places in order to protect public health.

Contact: Edie Jeffers, Communications Manager, (253) 798-2853, ejeffers@tpchd.org

Frank DiBiase, Environmental Health Division, (253) 798-7674 fdibiase@tpchd.org

About Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department
Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to safeguard and enhance the health of the communities of Pierce County. As part of its mission, the Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy, programs and treatment in order to protect public health. Learn more at www.tpchd.org.

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