City of Waco to consider welcoming new smoking lounges to town

Published: Jan. 16, 2023 at 6:06 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - The City of Waco is considering allowing new cigar lounges and hookah lounges and bars to come to town. The difference between the two is hookah lounges do not sell alcohol while hookah bars do.

Back in 2015 the city adopted a smoking ordinance that banned smoking inside most bars and restaurants in Waco, including hookah lounges and bars. This prevented new ones from opening up. The exception to this ordinance was that hookah businesses that opened before July 2015 and stayed in continuous operation since then.

Nikita Delfin, lead supervisor at Smokeex Smoke Shop, said she’s noticed that as of late there aren’t many hookah bars or lounges in town. The new ordinance would allow new ones to open up.

“There’s not a lot of nightlife, so I think it would be different than just a regular bar,” she said.

At the Smokeex Smoke Shop she and her staff sell hookahs for customers to use outside the business. The smoke shop is different from a smoking lounge where customers smoke at the lounge.

“It’s just another thing to push to them and I think they’re always willing to try,” Delfin said.

Dr. Bradford Holland with the McLennan County Medical Society said these hookahs can contain up to 700,000 different chemicals.

“70 of which are known to cause cancer and 100s are known to cause respiratory irritants,” he said. “What we’re really talking about here is a substance that really does put the public at risk.”

If the council does pass the ordinance, new hookah businesses would have to operate in standalone buildings or have a ventilation system separate from others in their building.

“If one of these businesses is allowed to set up in a shared building space just their presence would affect every other person in that unit in that building,” Dr. Holland said.

Dr. Holland and the McLennan County Medical Society plan on attending the Tuesday night city council meeting to speak out. They encourage the public to come out to voice their concerns as well.

“The medical community across Waco is united in saying that this is not a good idea,” he said.