Corp Comm Connects

Halt the hookahs: York Region bans shisha use to curb COVID-19

Violators can face $5,000 to $25,000 fines
March 29, 2021
Kim Zarzour

The use of hookahs inside businesses, including patios, is now prohibited in York Region.

Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region medical officer of health issued a Section 22 Class Order under the Health Promotion Act that prohibits the inhaling or exhaling smoke from a hookah and holding an activated hookah.

The order, which took effect at 12:01 a.m. Mar. 26, applies to owners, operators, patrons and employees in a premise permitted to open.

Failure to comply can lead to a daily fine up to $5,000 per person or $25,000 for a corporation for every day on which the offence occurs, said Patrick Casey, director of corporation communications for the region.

It is the next step in the region’s ongoing efforts to reduce transmission of COVID-19.

Hookahs, also known as shisha, are waterpipes designed to heat or burn a substance and produce smoke for inhalation.

Using a hookah is often a social activity and may involve close contact and sharing of mouthpieces with potentially infected people, Kurji said.

These activities increase the possibility of acquiring the virus, he said.

Transmission can occur with inadequate cleaning of hookah devices, especially the mouthpieces, he said.

The World Health Organization has suggested that shared smoking devices, including cigarette or vaping, may facilitate transmission of COVID-19 through exhaled smoke.