City considers harsher hookah regulation - KOTA Territory News

Rapid City considers harsher hookah regulation


Ifrit's on St. Joseph street is just one of just two hookah lounges in Rapid City and its been the cause of litigation and controversy spanning almost a year.
"The Mayor and the City Council want to shut this business down," said Stephen Wesolick, Attorney for the owners of Ifrit's Hookah Lounge.

For Wesolick, the fight to keep Ifrit's Hookah Lounge open could get a bit more difficult thanks to a proposed city ordinance.

"Currently there is no regulation of these sorts of establishments, under state law or city ordinance. So we saw a need for requiring a need for licensure," said Carla Cushman, Assistant City Attorney.
"I question the constitutionality of this ordinance, it singles out one type of establishment," said Wesolick, who points out that other establishments that allow smoking such as cigar bars aren't subject to the same type of regulation.
What's proposed: restricting the hours of operation from 11 am to midnight. Also, including signage inside and outside the business to warn patrons of the health risks of inhaling hookah smoke.
"Hookah products deliver 4x the nicotine and 100x the tar of cigarette smoke. It's different, it demands regulation," said Chief Steve Allender, with the Rapid City Police Department.
Lounges will also be required to install ventilation systems. A stipulation that may be too late for at least one business owners who moved because of the smoke.
"A lot of our customers, we don't know if they're allergic to it or have some kind of issue.  That's a big problem for me because I don't want anybody getting sick in my store because of another business," said Susan Grubl, owner of Merle Norman Cosmetics. She closed her store on St. Joseph street earlier this year because of the smoke from a neighboring Hookah Lounge.
Wesolick says the fight is far from over.
"If this passes, its an effort to single out my client, and shut them down. Which is what Sam Kooiker said at the first city council meeting I attended," said Wesolick, who adds he will include this ordinance, if it passes, into the hookah lounge's on-going legal action suit against the city.

Calls to Mayor Kooiker's office for a comment were not returned.
"What we're trying to do is put them on a even playing field with other bars who had to comply with the smoking ban," said Allender.

The new ordinance goes before the legal and finance committee on Wednesday.

Ifrits Hookah Lounge filed civil action in April asking the court to block the enforcement of the statewide smoking ban.

They are also pursing legal action to get their liquor license re-instated.

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518 St. Joseph St.
Rapid City, SD 57701

Telephone: 605.342.2000
Fax: 605.342.7305

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