Monday, June 15, 2009

Leave those hookahs alone

Posted By on Mon, Jun 15, 2009 at 2:46 PM

As Muddy Waters sang, "I'm a full-grown man, way past 21." So, as a more mature person, ahem, my first thoughts when I read the Observer Monday pamphlet's story on the possible disappearance of hookah smoking from Charlotte area bars and lounges were the thoughts of a near-geezer: "So what? Hookah smoking is nothing more than another silly hipster trend — I can't decide if it makes the smokers look more stupid or more pretentious." To which my formerly young self replied, "Oh, like you didn't do silly, pretentious stuff during your 20s in order to fit in with your era's hipsters."

My formerly young self is right, of course, and yes, if people want to smoke hookah, that's their business. The problem, as reported by the daily paper, and relayed earlier here by Rhi Bowman, is that the recently passed N.C. law banning lit tobacco in indoor bars and restaurants will bring indoor hookah bars to a screeching halt.

This is the kind of complication that usually arises when government is heavy-handed in addressing problems. Common sense, I feel, should tell us that if people want to get together and socialize by smoking hookah and having a cup of tea, or a meal, or even a Cheerwine if they feel like it, they should be able to do it. There is already talk of amending the law after the fact to allow for hookah bars, but that brings up a question that was asked during debate over the original bill: Why shouldn't anyone who knows that a bar allows smoking be able to go into the place of their own free will, and why shouldn't anyone who doesn't like smoky bars simply avoid them? If exceptions are made for hookah bars, why shouldn't regular bars be able to ask for the same consideration?

This might be the way-past-21 in me talking, but, frankly, going into a bar and *not smelling smoke of some sort is going to feel downright weird. As another musical act once sang, "Leave the kids alone."

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