Snohomish County Health Department sought formal public comment on a proposal to adopt and amend the state Smoking in Public Places law (Chapter 70.160 RCW). The Health Department added language in the local code to make it clear that the law applies to marijuana and hookah smoking as well as to cigarettes. This is now reflected in Chapter 13 of the Sanitary Code (PDF).
County Superior Court Decision
Following a two-day trial in Snohomish County Superior Court, downtown Everett's Hideout Hookah Lounge, also know as the Wetmore Cafe, was ordered to comply with the law by prohibiting indoor smoking by its patrons. In addition, the court levied fines of $89,100 against the business owners for intentionally violating the law for months and ignoring repeated warnings from the Snohomish County Health Department, which brought the lawsuit. The business was also ordered to pay certain additional court costs.
"Smoke is smoke," testified Snohomish County Health Department Health Officer Dr. Gary Goldbaum, "Hookah tobacco may smell sweet and be cheaper than cigarettes, but it is no less harmful or addictive. Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States.
We are glad this ruling makes it clear that hookah is not a potential business opportunity - it's an unhealthy behavior that people can choose to do in private, but they can't expose other people to it," Goldbaum said.
To see the complete ruling, view the Judgement and Injunction Document (PDF).