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Winnipeg looking at indoor shisha regulation as part of hookah ban efforts

The City of Winnipeg is continuing its efforts to ban the use of hookahs at businesses by asking the province to amend the Smoking Act.

On Monday, the city passed an amended motion to get the province to ban the practice. Specifically, it asks the government to add shisha to its list of products that can’t be used indoors, alongside tobacco and e-cigarettes.

A hookah pipe is used to smoke shisha, which is flavoured tobacco; however, there are non-tobacco options.

Mayor Scott Gillingham said this is the “appropriate step” as the province is ultimately the regulator of these products.

“We’re asking the province to consider these vapour products that are in use in hookah lounges in contemplation of the legislation and any amendments related to the legislation,” he said at a news conference on Tuesday.

CTV News Winnipeg previously that hookah lounges can operate due to a loophole in the law surrounding provincial indoor smoking. However, some city councillors believe these lounges need to be closed for safety issues.

Some critics and business owners are concerned about the possible regulation, saying that hookah is a social activity in certain cultures and that the ban would put certain businesses at risk.

In response to these critics, Gillingham said the city’s focus is on health.

“It’s always been around health and only been around health,” he said.

“I think that’s really important to articulate once again.”

Gillingham added that the province has the prerogative to make certain exemptions.

– With files from CTV’s Jeff Keele.

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