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County Hookah Lounges Take a Hit

Suffolk Legislature passes law to require increased monitoring of carbon monoxide levels.

The Suffolk County Legislature approved last week a law to require a functional carbon monoxide detectors in each room at hookah lounges in the county.

According to the new law, detectors will monitor the carbon monoxide concentrations in order to protect employees and patrons from potential carbon monoxide poisoning.

A hookah is a water pipe that people use to smoke flavored tobacco. The tobacco is heated by charcoal pieces, and the smoke is drawn through water into the smoker’s lungs using a hose.

When the charcoal is burned, high levels of carbon monoxide are emitted and ingested by the hookah user who may not realize that they are exposed to the risk of elevated carbon monoxide levels, according to William Spencer, D-Huntington, who voted in favor of the legislation.

“I am very pleased that I was able to work with my colleagues to protect the health of not only the employees but also the patrons of hookah lounges," said Legis. William Spencer, in a press release.

There is a misconception that hookah smoke is less toxic than cigarette smoke, said Spencer.

"Many people are unaware that one hookah session is equivalent to smoking 100 cigarettes. This legislation will ensure that the carbon monoxide levels are kept within an acceptable range," said Spencer. "The small businesses will be able to continue to provide hookah users an outlet while limiting health risks in their lounges.”

The Department of Health Services will establish all rules and regulations for implementation of the law. 

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