DEARBORN — Three Metro Detroit elected officials are introducing bills that create a public awareness campaign about the dangers of smoking hookah or the water pipe. State Representative Gino H. Polidori (D-Dearborn), State Senator Irma Clark-Coleman (D-Detroit) and State Senator Buzz Thomas (D-Detroit) are the bill sponsors.
College and high school students are involved in this dangerous new trend. Hookah tobacco is smoked through a water pipe and studies are showing that it is just as dangerous, if not more so, than smoking cigarettes.
“It is a misconception that hookah is safer than cigarettes because it is filtered through a water pipe, but this is not the case,” Polidori said. “Hookah tobacco is packaged to look like candy, but there are serious risks involved in smoking it.”
The three bills that were introduced this week would:
• Require establishments that sell hookah tobacco to download, from the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) website, a warning that states the dangers of hookah tobacco. This would be printed in Arabic, English and Spanish and could be downloaded for free. This bill is sponsored by Senator Buzz Thomas;
• Have the MDCH create a public awareness campaign to educate businesses on the dangers of hookah tobacco, the need to sanitize the water pipes, and the law regarding selling tobacco to minors. This would include brochures from the MDCH printed in Arabic, English, and Spanish that could be downloaded for free. This bill is sponsored by Senator Irma Clark-Coleman;
• Require establishments that sell hookah water pipes to sanitize their units after each use. This would include cleaning the hookah bowl and replacing the mouthpiece and hose with a sterile, single use one after each use. This bill is sponsored by Representative Gino H. Polidori.
“It is unfortunate that this practice has dangerous long-term consequences to people’s health,” said Senator Clark-Coleman. “Our goal is to help get the word out to everyone that if you want to smoke hookah tobacco you are taking risks. And if you sell it you need to follow the law, keep things sanitary, and especially not sell to minors.”
Users of hookah tobacco are not only likely to absorb the same harmful ingredients that are in cigarettes, but they are also more likely to suffer from gum disease and tooth loss.
“Our bill package is win-win,” Thomas said. “We did not want to impose a burden on businesses and the state but we want to educate consumers and we have a great balance (in this bill). There is little burden on anyone and hopefully consumers will have more information with which to make educated decisions.”