Hookah is for adults 21+ only. Sales to minors is prohibited, supported by age verification at the point of sale with legal penalties for failure to comply.
Regulation of flavors in tobacco products is becoming increasingly common. Virtually all hookah is flavored. This means that a ban on flavored tobacco products which includes hookah would be a de facto ban on the unique culture, history, and use of hookah.
The NHCA is vigorously opposed to a hookah ban in any part of the United States.
A hookah ban is incompatible with any tolerant, inclusive society and would prejudice particular communities of Middle Eastern descent.
Unlike cigarettes and e-cigarettes, hookah does not appear to have issue with widespread youth use, as other tobacco products may have. While a small number of teens may try hookah once or twice, just as they try other risky behaviors, in 2019, the CDC found that just 2.6% of teens used hookah in the last 30 days, >10 times lower than the number of teen vapers
A 2018 FDA and CDC funded study showed almost 90% of Americans who use Hookah do so no more than once per month. By comparison, the average American cigarette smoker smokes 14 cigarettes per day according to CDC, and vapers can vape compulsively around the clock.
For these reasons, lawmakers should exclude hookah from tobacco flavor bans based on its unique cultural importance to certain communities, as well as its unique composition and consumption patterns. There is growing precedent for such exclusions:
- SB793, a proposed flavor ban in the State of California has been amended by its author to exclude hookah.
- Various Californian cities and counties have excluded hookah from flavored tobacco and e-cigarette regulation including San Diego County, Long Beach, Burbank and Ventura, among others.
Hookah should be regulated and restricted for adult use only. It should carry appropriate consumer warnings on its packaging. However, hookah is a unique product, and it should be regulated and taxed based on its unique product characteristics and consumption patterns.