Hookah lounge

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A shisha parlor is sometimes mistakenly referred to as 'hookah lounge' (also called a shisha bar or den, especially in Britain and parts of Canada). It is an establishment where patrons share shisha from a communal hookah or from one placed at each table or a bar.

A hookah and a variety of tobacco products are on display in a Harvard Square store window in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States.

HOOKAH LOUNGE is a trademark, which is owned by Paymon's in Las Vegas (NV). Paymon's was the first to use the name HOOKAH LOUNGE for its shisha parlor and bar in Las Vegas (NV). In Western countries, shisha parlors are often owned and operated by people from the Arab world or South Asia where use of the hookah is a centuries-old tradition. Many shisha parlors incorporate such elements as Islamic decor and Arabic music or Indian music and have traditional decor, but some are simply bars without the eastern cultural elements.[1]


In the United States and Europe, shisha parlors are most popular in college towns and urban areas and are regarded by some as a novel and chic way to socialize and embrace multiculturalism. Certain parlors offer modern hookahs with fruit bowls or other kinds of improvements over smoking hookah at home.[2] Some people of Middle Eastern or South Asian extraction consider them a continuation of their own cultural traditions. However, shisha parlors nowadays often distance themselves from the eastern cultures by offering hookah and alcohol without the cultural elements. These bars differ from other bars only in the fact that they offer hookah.[citation needed]

Typically a disposable mouthpiece is provided for each user for hygiene reasons. When alcohol is not sold, shisha parlors derive revenue from sales of coffee, tea, soft drinks and snack foods.[citation needed]

Some shisha parlors have well-equipped kitchens and are more akin to bistros. In the broadest sense, any restaurant or nightclub can be considered a shisha parlor or club if it offers patrons hookahs, shisha and a comfortable place to smoke. Some offer Middle Eastern cuisine menu items.

In the United States, due to several state tobacco control laws, many shisha bars have made the transition from offering tobacco shisha to herbal shisha, which is tobacco-free and can legally be smoked indoors in areas that have restrictions on tobacco smoking. Although herbal shisha does not contain tobacco or nicotine, when burned it does produce harmful chemicals, including heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which can cause cancer and heart disease. These harmful chemicals are breathed in both by smokers and bystanders.[3]

Waterpipes outside a café in Aleppo, Syria.


The origins of hookah are controversial, even though most agree that it started either in the Middle East or the Indian subcontinent.[4] It soon traveled west to Iran, Turkey, and Egypt, where it gained mass popularity.

In Europe[edit]

Hookah smoking is common in many European[5] and other countries including:

  • Germany - Hookahs are available in many establishments in Germany, particularly in Berlin, Cologne and the Ruhr Area and areas, and it is not only popular amongst Turkish people.[citation needed] The German customs authority recorded a growing trade with illegal and untaxed shisha tobacco in 2017. While previously shisha was smuggled via ports in Rotterdam and Hamburg, a trend was noted where the tobacco was produced in hidden factories in Germany according to René Matschke, the chief of customs in Hamburg.[6]
  • Netherlands - Hookahs are now gaining popularity in the Netherlands, particularly in Rotterdam and Amsterdam.
  • United Kingdom - In the United Kingdom, hookahs are most commonly found in "shisha bars" run by Lebanese, Pakistani or Egyptian people. Since a 2007 British ban on smoking in public places, Shisha bars have risen from 179 in 2007 to 556 in 2012. Birmingham also has a large number of Shisha bars also such as Shabbi Shics in the Digbeth area of town.[7]
  • Spain - Hookah use has grown in popularity in Spain, especially among the young. As a result, many teterías (tea houses) have made hookahs available to patrons.
  • Russia - Due to heavy influence from Caucasus and Central Asia, hookahs have become a widespread recreational practice in large Russian cities, and are now offered in many cafes and restaurants.
  • Denmark - Shisha bars have gained popularity in the recent years. Shisha Parlors are present in Aarhus, Odense, and Copenhagen and other cities.

In the United States[edit]

Mist Hookah Lounge in North Brunswick, New Jersey

In the United States, establishments akin to shisha parlors first opened decades ago in the immigrant quarters of New York City and Los Angeles, California as coffee and tea houses. The Hookah was not the central focus of the businesses until the shisha bar called HOOKAH LOUNGE in Las Vegas featured it as the primary offering. Patrons were typically men of Middle Eastern descent[citation needed] The first establishment to call itself the HOOKAH LOUNGE, is in Las Vegas, Nevada. The HOOKAH LOUNGE created the entire experience of the Hookah, specialty cocktails and Middle Eastern food. The decor is Moroccan. They registered the name in 2000 as a trademark and began using the URL Hookahlounge.com. They have two locations in Las Vegas. It was the first full-service bar that focused its business around serving hookahs. The HOOKAH LOUNGE in Las Vegas was opened in 2000 by owner Paymon Raouf and operator Jeff Ecker. The HOOKAH LOUNGE in Las Vegas has defended the use of its name HOOKAH LOUNGE. They have used the term America's Original HOOKAH LOUNGE in advertisements to identify them as the first to operate in a major lounge setting.

Many shisha parlors in the United States have modernistic elements such as glass tables, plasma televisions, and oxygen bars. Most bars in the U.S. require patrons to be at least 18 years of age to smoke shisha and 18 years of age to purchase (exceptions are Utah, Arizona, Alabama, and New Jersey: 19 years of age to smoke; New York and Vermont are 21 years of age). [2][8]

It is not uncommon now to find shisha bars within short distance of college campuses and in the surrounding towns.[citation needed] For private hookah smokers, many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean markets now offer hookah products for sale.

Smoking bans and exemptions[edit]

Hookah use has increased dramatically among American and European youth in recent years because of the social atmosphere it creates, and because many young adults know it as an alternative to cigarette smoking.

Many municipalities, especially in North America and Europe have enacted smoking bans in public places. Sometimes, however, businesses can obtain special permits allowing smoking within; these permits are typically available only for shisha bars, cigar bars, tobacconists, and similar establishments where smoking is the focus of activity. They are less frequently available for places in which alcohol or food is served.

In some cases, the ban is against tobacco smoking specifically. When this is the case, a shisha bar may remain in business by replacing traditional, tobacco-based shisha with a tobacco-free Mu‘assel.

In order to remain open, many shisha bars cannot sell food or beverages. Approximately 90% of the cities that have put a ban on smoking in public places have exemptions for shisha bars. The cities with these kinds of exemptions, typically, have more dense populations.[9]

Public health concerns[edit]

Because shisha bars are exempt from the smoking bans, many believe it is becoming a public health concern. Many hookah users do not understand the health risks that come along with it. Common beliefs include that shisha is not addictive, and the smoke contains less carcinogens. Hookah smoke contains the same chemicals found in cigarettes, it is not safer because it is smoked as often, it is addictive, and even if the tobacco is filtered with water, the carcinogens are not filtered out.[10] Traditional charcoal heated hookah delivers 9 to 10 times the carbon monoxide delivered by standard cigarette smoking.[11] There have been multiple published reports of acute carbon monoxide poisoning caused by narghile (waterpipe tobacco/hookah).[12] It has also been shown that waterpipe tobacco contains 27 known or suspected carcinogens (cancer causing chemicals) including significant quantities of tobacco-associated carcinogens; as well as significant concentrations of toxicants thought to cause dependence, heart disease and lung disease. [13] [14] [15] For this reason, many cities want to create tougher restrictions for shisha bars, and some want them shut down altogether.


  1. ^ "East Bay: Aromas, relaxation are the hook in hookah". 20 May 2005. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Hookah Bars Finding a Place in America - Health - RedOrbit". 27 September 2007. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  3. ^ Hammal, Fadi; Chappell, Alyssa; Wild, T. Cameron; Kindzierski, Warren; Shihadeh, Alan; Vanderhoek, Amanda; Huynh, Cong Khanh; Plateel, Gregory; Finegan, Barry A. (2015). "'Herbal' but potentially hazardous: an analysis of the constituents and smoke emissions of tobacco-free waterpipe products and the air quality in the cafés where they are served". Tobacco Control. 24 (3): 290–297. doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2013-051169. ISSN 1468-3318. PMID 24128428.
  4. ^ "article-niche.com". article-niche.com. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  5. ^ Jawad, Mohammed (2014-03-18). "Legislation Enforcement of the Waterpipe Tobacco Industry: A Qualitative Analysis of the London Experience". Nicotine & Tobacco Research. 16 (7): 1000–1008. doi:10.1093/ntr/ntu022. ISSN 1469-994X. PMID 24642591.
  6. ^ Niewerth, A. Dinger, C. Unger und G. (2018-11-29). "Auch Berlin plant härtere Regeln für Shisha-Bars". www.morgenpost.de (in German). Retrieved 2018-12-09.
  7. ^ "Hubble, bubble". The Economist. 24 August 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  8. ^ "Tobacco 21 Law Takes Effect September 1, 2019 | Division of Liquor Control". liquorcontrol.vermont.gov. Retrieved 2020-01-06.
  9. ^ A, Primack B. "US Health Policy Related to Hookah Tobacco Smoking." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 24 July 2012. Web.
  10. ^ Morris, Daniel S., Steven C. Fiala, and Rebecca Pawlak. "Opportunities for Policy Interventions to Reduce Youth Hookah Smoking in the United States." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. N.p., 15 Nov. 2012. Web. 01 Apr. 2013..
  11. ^ "High Carbon Monoxide Levels from Charcoal Combustion Mask Acute Endothelial Dysfunction Induced by Hookah (Waterpipe) Smoking in Young Adults" Circulation. 2019 Feb 15. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.118.037375. [Epub ahead of print]
  12. ^ "Carbon monoxide poisoning in narghile (water pipe) tobacco smokers" CJEM. 2012 Jan;14(1):57-9.
  13. ^ "A comparative study of systemic carcinogen exposure in waterpipe smokers, cigarette smokers and non-smokers" Tob Control. 2015 Mar;24(2):125-7. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2013-051206. Epub 2013 Aug 29.
  14. ^ "Toxicant content, physical properties and biological activity of waterpipe tobacco smoke and its tobacco-free alternatives." Tob Control. 2015 Mar;24 Suppl 1:i22-i30. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2014-051907. Epub 2015 Feb 9.
  15. ^ Channick, Robert. "Hookah Lounges Thriving, Three Years after Smoking Ban." Chicago Tribune. N.p. Web.13 Apr. 2011.

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