By the slenderest of margins, the Oregon House has approved a bill aimed at preventing more hookah lounges from opening across the state.
By the slenderest of margins, the Oregon House Wednesday approved a bill aimed at preventing more hookah lounges from opening across the state. The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. John Kitzhaber, who has said he will sign it.
The proposal, House Bill 2726, received a favorable 31-29 vote, with the support of 28 Republicans and three Democrats in the evenly divided House.
But many former backers of the bill voted against it because of two key Senate-side amendments that they say watered down the proposal and left the door open for a flurry of new hookah lounge applications in the next few days before the governor puts pen to paper.
Under current statutes, hookah lounges, where patrons smoke sweetened or flavored tobaccos through water pipes, fall into the category of “smoke shops” in Oregon. That exempts them from Oregon’s Indoor Clean Air Act, which prohibits smoking in almost all public buildings and indoor workplaces, including taverns and bars.