An attempt to ban shisha in the US state of California has been withdrawn on the grounds that it would impede a Middle East tradition, according to media reports.
In the state Senate in May, a flavoured-tobacco ban was heading towards the Senate floor, but only after it was amended to exclude shisha (or hookah) products.
“Members wanted the bill to exclude hookah bars, and the senator refused to accept that,” Republican Sen. Shannon Grove told Fox News. “To my knowledge, it was painted as a cultural issue.”
The “cultural” stance is said to have created a degree of nervousness among lawmakers over how they would be publicly received, leading to the exemption amendment.
In a joint letter, the American Lung Association in California, the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network announced their full opposition to the bill.
“Exempting hookah products sets a terrible precedent and undermines the foundation of the original legislation to protect youth, low income and minority communities from flavoured tobacco,” the organisations wrote to State Democratic Sen. Jerry Hill, the architect of the Bill 38, intended to “combat the epidemic use of flavoured tobacco products by youth”.
Approximately 13 percent of the entire Los Angeles population, many of whom are politically active, would have been affected by a tobacco-flavour ban.
Instead of allowing the amended bill to go to vote, Hill instead opted for a full withdrawal.
A statement issued to Fox News by Hill’s representatives said that “a special interest group had sought changes to the bill arguing that it raised concerns among communities for whom the use of flavoured hookah tobacco is a cultural tradition and among proprietors of hookah lounges.”
“I find it hard to believe that use of gummy bear and bubble-gum flavoured tobacco in any form is a cultural tradition,” Hill added.For all the latest retail news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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