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Opinion: ‘Nauseating’ smoke from Burnaby business makes life hell for family

New smoking rules exempt existing hookah lounges
iStock photo

The City of Burnaby has spent more than a year working to update its smoking bylaw and has produced rules that are definitely tougher. (You can read more about them here.)

But not tough enough for S.W., who says life has been hell for a Burnaby family who live just 30 feet away from a local hookah lounge.

The new smoking rules grandfathered in hookah lounges that are already in business – after much protest from these business owners - and S.W. is not happy. (S.W. did not name the specific hookah lounge for fear of reprisals because this resident is known to the owners due to numerous complaints.)

“In some cases, there are hookah lounges spewing dangerous smoke from their premises less than 30 feet from a townhouse complex that houses more than 15 children,” S.W. said. “In my case, my children’s bedroom looks out directly at the hookah lounge. Our townhouse constantly smells of smoke. As an asthmatic, I hadn’t used my puffer for more than a year. Now, with the harmful smoke, I need the puffer multiple times per day. My kids can no longer play outside close to our house as the smell is so nauseating.

“The recently passed smoking bylaw grandfathers the hookah lounges and will let them continue spewing smoke into our home. The city would rather sacrifice our children than face a legal battle that will focus on the hookah lounge owners’ culture. To make matters worse, the city is leaving it up to the local residents to prove that the hookah lounges are operating late at night beyond the hours permitted by their business licence. We have advised the city that the lounges are open until 1:30 AM despite the operating hours on their business license stating that they must close at 12:30AM. We have provided video to the City showing patrons dancing, smoking and consuming alcohol at 6:30AM yet the city does nothing. The residents understand the cultural implication of banning hookah lounges and aren’t asking the city to do so. What we are looking for the city to do is police the situation.”

This includes:

1) don’t allow hookah lounges in areas that are zoned high density, residential or mixed use;

2) enforce the rules on the business licenses instead of leaving it to residents to police ourselves;

3) ensure that the lounges are built and operating in accordance with safety standards and good practice.

The city has cracked down before, closing down the Pure business in 2019 after more than 100 complaints.

Hopefully these residents get some action because living with the smell of smoke isn’t right.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.