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Utah clarifies Clean Air Act to include hookah, other tobacco

By Viviane Vo-Duc and Mary Richards | Posted - Aug. 29, 2011 at 10:49 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Health Department is clarifying the indoor clean air act to include hookah and other tobacco-related products. But one business owner says the state is overstepping its bounds.

On Sept. 12 the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act will include additional language that treats smoke from hookah tobacco the same as smoke from cigarettes, cigars, and pipe tobacco.

The reason for the clarification, according to the health department, is that hookahs are a health hazard.

“Secondhand tobacco smoke is known to cause cancer in humans,” said Steve Hadden of the Utah Department of Health Tobacco Prevention and Control Program. “There is simply no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke.”

But Nate Porter, owner of the Huka Bar and Grill in Murray, says the health department has no proof that hookahs give off secondhand smoke. “I would like to see Utah studies on hookah. If they want to say that hookah has secondhand smoke qualities, I would like to see those studies.”

Porter said when people go to the Huka bar, they are deciding to be around hookas or to smoke hookas.

Porter said he will take the state to court and his business will not be going away on Sept. 12. “We will continue to do business,” he said. “We are going to get a judge to file an injunction on this, and we are gonna fight this tooth and nail."

He said the state is overstepping its bounds by changing laws on an administrative level rather than a legislative level.

This rule applies to current and future products. “As the market emerges up the road and as new projects are introduced, it will help everyone understand what is and isn't covered by the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act,” Hadden explained.

Information about the act, about the health effects of secondhand smoke, resources for quitting and more can be found at www.tobaccofreeutah.org.

Other quitting information can be found by calling 1800-quit-now (784-8669) or www.utahquitnet.com.

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Written with contributions from Viviane Vo-duc and Mary Richards.

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