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Hookah lounges could be banned in Burnaby

Hookah lounges may no longer be able to operate in Burnaby if proposed smoking regulations are passed by city council.
Pure Hookah
Pure Hookah Lounge opened near the Vancouver border in 2017, but has since had its business licence cancelled by the city.

Hookah lounges may no longer be able to operate in Burnaby if proposed smoking regulations are passed by city council.

Public safety director Dave Critchley has proposed the city develop a bylaw around smoking to go beyond what provincial legislation already regulates.

In a report to council, Critchley notes the province only regulates smoking of tobacco and vapourizers in buildings, leaving hookah products and cannabis untouched. But the report notes that hookah products, with or without tobacco, contain “cancer-causing chemicals, and … the inhalation of that smoke raises health risks to users.”

The city’s proposed bylaw, then, would prohibit smoking tobacco and vapourizer products, “as well as any other weed or substance” on business premises and in customer service areas.

If Critchley’s proposed regulations are approved, the city would also double down on the provincial legislation, prohibiting smoking tobacco and vapourizer products within businesses. The intent is to allow the city to enforce the prohibition independent of the province.

The city’s regulation would provide some exemptions, including businesses that are not open to the public and that operate in a private residence. That doesn’t, however, include home-based child-care facilities. The city would also exempt smoking rooms in hotels and motels.

The city would also go beyond the provincial legislation by banning smoking on partially enclosed or unenclosed customer service spaces, such as patios or balconies, where food and beverages are served.

Finally, the city would require businesses to place signs in the areas where the city prohibits smoking.

Enforcement would be done through bylaw violation notices, but no fine or other action has been proposed as of yet.

City staff is seeking council’s approval to develop such a bylaw, which would require consultations with Fraser Health prior to third reading. The city would also be required to hold a public hearing on the matter.

It's the second attempt by city staff to pass a smoking and vaping bylaw, almost a year to the date after the first one was voted down by council. On Sept. 16, 2019, council was presented a bylaw that would prohibit smoking on sidewalks, parks, parking lots and outdoor areas on private property.

“Full disclosure: I, as about 15 per cent of the population of British Columbians, smoke. Shame on me,” Coun. Colleen Jordan said at the time, adding the proposal went far beyond a recommendation to consider banning smoking in city parks.

Council is expected to consider the issue Monday evening.

Follow Dustin on Twitter at @dustinrgodfrey