By Sue Ellen Woodcock
The owners of the Kasbah have been called in to the next Board of Health meeting on Oct. 13 to discuss violations of the Town of Winthrop smoking regulations.
According to the letter, “smoking of any combustible substance is in clear violation of the Town of Winthrop Smoke Free Workplace Law.”
On Friday, Aug. 14 the director of tobacco control, who is a Board of Health regulation enforcement officer, observed the selling and smoking of hookah in the restaurant at 59 Putnam St. At the time a $100 ticket was issued for a first offense.
According to the town’s regulations, any subsequent offense within in 24 months is subject to additional fines and jeopardizes the food permits.
Again on Saturday, Aug. 15, the inspector, who is from Somerville, observed the sale and smoking of hookah. At that time a fine of $200 was issued. The inspector returned on Friday, Aug. 21 and again observed the sale and smoking of hookah. A third ticket for $300 was issued.
At this point the Board of Health called for the owner to appear before the board on Oct. 13
Nassar Belghiti, owner of the Kasbah, said he would prefer not to make any comment on the letter from the Board of Health. He did say he was not sure if he would attend the meeting on Oct. 13.
According to the letter from the Board of Health, “if you fail to appear, the town of Winthrop will have no alternative other than to revoke your permit to operate.”
Known for its Moroccan and Mediterranian food, belly dancers and hookah, the Kasbah is a popular establishment.
According to the Public Health Law Center, a hookah, also known as shisha and nargile, is a waterpipe used for smoking flavored tobacco. The tobacco used in hookahs is typically shredded tobacco leaf flavored with molasses, honey or dried fruit. This sweetened tobacco product is generally called shisha in the United States. The popularity of hookah establishments (often referred to as “bars” or “lounges”) has grown recently in the United States, particularly in cities with large Middle-Eastern communities and in areas with significant young adult populations, such as near college campuses. Hundreds of hookah bars now operate in the United States.
The Public Health Law Center contends the health risks associated with hookah smoking are generally thought to be greater than those of cigarette or cigar smoking. Hookah smoke contains significant amounts of nicotine, tar, heavy metals, and carcinogens. Waterpipe smoke may also contain charcoal or wood cinder byproduct carcinogens and carbon monoxide. An unfortunate myth persists that hookah use is less damaging to health than cigarette smoking because the water filtration system and extended hose serve as filters for harmful agents. In fact, the water filtration system only cools the smoke, allowing the user to inhale greater amounts of smoke over a longer period of time. A typical hookah session may last for an hour or more and this period of sustained inhalation increases exposure to carcinogens and is similar, in result, to smoking up to 100 cigarettes.
In the letter from the Board of Health, officials said, “We appreciate your attention to this matter and we anticipate 100 percent compliance immediately with all Town of Winthrop Smoke Free Workplace Laws,”.