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Image via Shutterstock
Image via Shutterstock

The New York City Health Department on Monday, May 21 announced the launch of its first-ever media campaign geared at educating New Yorkers on the risks of smoking hookah.

The launch comes on the heels of historic hookah legislation going into effect this year, which adds non-tobacco hookah to the Smoke Free Air Act of 2002, which banned indoor smoking of cigarettes and cigars, and governs the cleanliness of hookah paraphernalia while also prohibiting entry to hookah establishments for those under 21 as a means to de-normalize smoking citywide.

It greatly affects neighborhoods like Bay Ridge, where there is a large number of hookah bars and lounges along both of the nabe’s main commercial strips — many of them having seen their fair share of pushback. Much of the new hookah legislation was sponsored and heavily pushed by former Ridge Councilmember Vincent Gentile.

According to the Health Department, just one hour of smoking hookah can expose someone to as much carbon monoxide and tar as smoking 10 cigarettes. Furthermore, anyone in a room where hookah is being smoked is exposed to toxic chemicals, whether or not they are smoking.

“Many people underestimate the health risks of hookah. This media campaign provides the truth about hookah smoke: it’s dangerous and harmful,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett. “The recent increase in hookah smoking threatens the progress we’ve made here in New York City to reduce tobacco use and prevent thousands of tobacco-related illnesses and deaths.”

Campaign courtesy of the New York City Health Department

Campaign courtesy of the New York City Health Department

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