Hookah Fact Sheet For National Hookah

The NationalHookah Community Association (NHCA)

Who We Are

The National Hookah Community Association (NHCA) is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit dedicated to protecting and preserving hookah culture and businesses across the United States.
Founded in 2020, NHCA represents a diverse group of hookah manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers, including hundreds of independently owned hookah lounges.
The NHCA is committed to supporting and defending its members by:
  • Promoting the understanding of the culture, community and business of hookah to society, and politicians.
  • Protecting hookah from regulation that threatens the hookah economic and social community.
  • Working with lawmakers to support regulation that upholds and promotes good practices and high standards in our sector.

What is Hookah

Hookah is a centuries old cultural and social ritual, originating in the Middle East and India where it was used in hospitality and openness and bring people together.
Today, hookah is an integral cultural staple for many minority and immigrant communities in the United States.
Hookah (also known as waterpipe tobacco, shisha, nargile, or argile) is a mixture containing between 15-20% tobacco only. The rest of the components are molasses or corn syrup and food-grade flavoring.
Many manufacturers use a variety of tobacco which is naturally low in nicotine.
Hookah cannot be repurposed into cigarettes or used in a vape “pod” or any other device besides a hookah waterpipe.
Hookah waterpipes are up to three feet tall and cannot be easily transported or concealed. They compose of a metal stem held by rubber grommet into a glass vas that holds the water.

Hookah Use in the US

Hookah use is uniquely cultural, social, and infrequent. It is almost always used during social activity with friends or family and not aligned with a compulsive or solitary activity like smoking cigarettes and vaping. Hookah culture spans centuries and continents, uniting many diverse communities. Hookah is a cultural expression and social outlet for some groups that donot traditionally consume alcohol. A 2018 study from the Society for Nicotine and Tobacco Research showed almost 90% of Americans who use hookah do so only once a month and that most people (50-60%) use hookah in cafes, or lounges
  • By comparison, the average American cigarette smoker smokes 14 cigarettes per day2, and vapers can vape compulsively around the clock.
In a report released on December 6, 2019, the CDC found that overall, just 2.6% of middle and high school students used hookah “in the past 30 days”, five times lower than the number of teens who vape. In the U.S., there are approximately 30,000 hookah cafes, lounges, and retailers.

The Issue

Flavored hookah is the only form of hookah used and sold in the United States. A flavored tobacco ban at the federal, state or local level is a hookah ban.
The “Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act” (S. 3174 &H.R. 2339, 116th Congress) contains a flavored tobacco ban and would effectively eliminate hookah from the United States entirely.
  • The House of Representatives passed H.R. 2339 on February 28, 2020.
  • A bipartisan amendment to H.R. 2339 was offered to the House Rules Committee by Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), and cosponsored by Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV), to exempt hookah. However, the closed rule procedure in committee did not allow for House floor consideration.

S. 3174 and H.R. 2339 will deprive millions of Americans part of their social life.

Our Position

NHCA believes that hookah should be excluded from the blanket tobacco flavor ban proposed in S. 3174 and H.R. 2339.The legal hookah industry will cease to exist if the current bill reintroduced in the 117th Congress and passed into law and will ultimately give birth to an illicit market.
We believe that hookah should also be excluded from the online sales ban, and all online retailers must employ age verification hardware and/or software. Photo IDs should be scanned and verified before an onlineor in store purchase can be made.
  • Current social distancing requirements should encourage the continued use of online sales to prevent in-person and close contact exchanges.
  • Online sales are a source of tax-revenue for states and localities struggling to replace traditional retail revenues.

NHCA supports the continued regulation by FDA of the manufacture, import, packaging, labeling, advertising, promotion, sale, and distribution of hookah products.
NHCA believes hookah products and ads should carry health warnings (as they currently do).
NHCA strongly supported raising the minimum smoking age to 21 and imposing penalties for businesses that fail to comply with age verification requirements.
(1) Journal of Nicotine and Tobacco Research, June 2018, https://academic.oup.com/ntr/article/20/6/731/3064155
(2) CDC PressRelease, SmokingRatesDeclining, https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p0118-smoking-rates-declining.html
(3) Tobacco Product Use and Associated Factors Among Middle and High School Students — United States, 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/68/ss/ss6812a1.htm?s_cid=ss6812a1_w#F1_down

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