Jan. 12 — The StarNewsOnline reports: "State health officials reported Tuesday they have received 171 complaints so far about people violating the new indoor smoking ban... [David Rice, New Hanover County's health director] said his office has sent out one warning letter so far after receiving a complaint about the Juggling Gypsy, a hookah bar attempting to thwart the ban by using Web cams because one of the exemptions allowed in the ban is for smoking during performances." http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20100112/ARTICLES/1124002?Title=State-has-gotten-171-complaints-since-smoking-ban
UDATE: Jan. 11 — The Winston-Salem Journal reports: As of last year, North Carolina had about 20 hookah bars or lounges. Most serve alcohol.... Hookah supporters say that, technically, the tobacco used in hookah smoking is never actually lit. It is heated by charcoal, but a small metal screen or piece of foil provides a physical barrier between the coals and the tobacco.... An attorney for the N.C. Division of Public Health countered that hookahs would fall under the "lighted pipe" definition.... Not all hookah sellers are participating in smoking civil disobedience. Mooney's Mediterranean Cafe, in downtown Winston-Salem..." Full story at http://www2.journalnow.com/content/2010/jan/11/no-ban-here-some-hookah-bars-are-simply-ignoring-s/news/
UPDATE: Jan. 6 — Star News Online reports: "Hookah bars across the state rebel against smoking ban: The Juggling Gypsy isn’t the only hookah bar in North Carolina puffing in the face of the new smoking ban for bars and restaurants." The article also notes the Castle Street bar's efforts, Bill Hookah Bliss and Asheville's Hookah Bar.
UPDATES: Jan. 5 — @TheHookahBar tweeted at 11:03pm, Monday, Jan. 4: "Hookahs still smoking here in Asheville NC on JAN 4th.."
WECT TV in Wilmington posted the following at http://www.wect.com/Global/story.asp?S=11766527
[quote]Little has changed at the Juggling Gypsy Cafe and Hookah bar in Wilmington since the start of the smoking ban in North Carolina Saturday. Patrons continue to smoke. However, this is not an act of civil disobedience. Bar manager Denny Best says bar management has found what it believes to be a loophole in the new ban, allowing customers to continue to smoke tobacco through the water pipes.... However, buried at the very end of the smoking ban legislation is an exemption for actors on a live production set. So, thanks to a web cam and a streaming web site, the Juggling Gypsy is now a stage, and all the patrons its players.[/quote]
Clickhere to watch the Juggling Gypsy show: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/the-juggling-gypsy-s-smoking-show
The Goodson Blogson (news and announcements from the J. Michael Goodson Law Library at Duke) writes: "The Independent Weekly details the owner’s plan to ignore the ban in order to trigger a legal challenge in the courts. This story should prove an interesting case study in civil procedure, and will undoubtedly be watched by the local media. Will a legal challenge successfully overturn the ban? Or, perhaps, will the defiance of citizens make enforcement nearly impossible, as detailed in this recent New York Times story of New York City’s post-prohibition night life?" http://dukelawref.blogspot.com/2010/01/new-year-new-laws.html
Durham's IndyWeek has an article datelined Dec 30, at http://www.indyweek.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A407760
[quote]"We are going to wait for them to give us the ticket," says Bliss, the owner of Hookah Bliss on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. "They are required to give us two warnings, and then it can be up to $200 per ticket."
A ticket is exactly what Bliss wants. He says he'll use it to trigger legal action against county and state officials for harassment and discrimination.
"I'm going to get the ticket. I'm going to go to court, and hopefully we'll be able to continue our legitimate business, as we should be," says Bliss, who sells 61 flavors of tobacco that patrons ages 18 and older can inhale through communal pipes. "That's where we stand is, we're going to fight."
Orange County Environmental Health Director Tom Konsler says he's aware of Bliss's protest plans but isn't sure how his agency will respond.
"We will operate on a complaint basis as far as enforcement," said Konsler, who, as part of enforcing the ban, will oversee business owners while police handle patrons. "We don't have any specific plan as targeted toward (Hookah Bliss) versus any other restaurant or bar that's subject to the smoking law."[/quote]
ShipmanLaw.com writes: "Hookah Bars are establishments that offer all different types of flavored tobacco for their customer’s enjoyment. The only people who enter their bar are those that want to partake in the Hookah experience. Owners argue that they too should be exempt from this law along with the private clubs and cigar bars. " http://blog.shipmanlaw.com/2010/01/with-new-year-of-2010-north-carolina.html
UPDATES: Sunday, Jan. 3 — In Chapel Hill, Adam Bliss, owner of Hookah Bliss on Franklin Street, said this week that the business will stay open and possibly go to court over the smoking ban if it is fined. "We're going to stay open long enough to get a ticket," he said. "We're going to fight them in court," reported the Herald Sun. http://www.heraldsun.com/pages/full_story/push?article-Hookah+Bliss+-to+stay+open-%20&id=5392944&instance=homesecondleft
"Businesses that allow smoking are given two written warnings. On the third infraction, a business can be fined up to $200," the Herald Sun noted.
"The owner of Hookah Bliss in Chapel Hill, Adam Bliss, plans on fighting the ban and keeping his hookah bar open even though the business is not exempt. Bliss explained that the hookah bar would be exempt if alcohol was not sold there," reported wake.mync.com at http://wake.mync.com/site/wake/news|Sports|Lifestyles/story/46288/new-year-brings-new-smoking-ban
abclocal.go.com reported: Adam Bliss, the owner of Hookah Bliss, says the law is unfair, and is threatening his business of two-and-a-half years.
"As you can see, we're disobeying what they think is the law, and we're staying open," Bliss said. "I'm expecting to eventually get cited by the Director of Health of Orange County, and that's when we're going to have to go to court." Bliss says it is a matter of equal protection under the law, but others say not so fast. http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story?section=news/local&id=7197738
Saturday, Jan. 2 — With the new state law going into effect today, the word on Twitter is that the Hookah Bar in Asheville continues to allow smoking in its premises, and will continue to do so in defiance of the law.
Earlier, Twitter carried the following message, sent under the name @TheHookahBar: "Only a few short days til we extend our middle finger to the NC Smoking Ban. The Hookah Bar will be open in 2010."
And at 6:56 p.m. this evening that same account tweeted: "F the smoking ban.. we are still smoking.. I am right now!!"
Interestingly, the law specifically exempts "cigar bars" from the smoking ban.
The law says it shall be enforced by the local health director. Does this mean that the law's enforcement will be complaint-based? as has been suggested by some.
The text of the law can be found downloaded as a PDF at http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&ct=res&cd=3&ved=0CBAQFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ncga.state.nc.us%2FSessions%2F2009%2FBills%2FHouse%2FPDF%2FH2v10.pdf&ei=A94_S8_6ONCVtgfk6KD8CA&usg=AFQjCNGjDXwuncfCtEal-9DI4HT4xUGhwg&sig2=agP3H32XGR35jiwfJoHkpA
On Dec. 21, there appeared to be an concerted attempt to spread the word of the Hookah Bar's intended defiance of state law, when several accounts tweeted the same message: "Hookah bar to defy smoking ban and could become the 21st-century version of a Prohibition-era speakeasy. http://linkbee.com/EUQQ9 #avlnews"
For Xpress coverage of that event, see http://www.mountainx.com/blogwire/2009/who_is_taking_hookah_joes_smoking-law_defiance_viral
Last June, Xpress looked at the new smoking-ban law and talked to the owner of the then-named "Hookah Joe's" (it has since changed ownership and its name to The Hookah Bar):
“The bar’s not going to close down, but it certainly affects whether we can allow smoking or not,” noted owner Joseph McHugh, adding that hookah bar owners are pushing for an exemption.
“There’s also the whole definition of smoking. [The law] defines it as the igniting of tobacco. We actually don’t ignite: We bake the molasses the tobacco is soaked in,” he pointed out. “That’s another possible loophole we could try to exploit.”
That article can be accessed at http://www.mountainx.com/news/2009/060309smoked_out
There is a hookah bar in Fayetteville that plans on following the law, according to the Fayetteville Observer, which reported on Dec. 27: "Adel Nassar opened his Fig Cafe restaurant and hookah lounge in Westwood Shopping Center in March - just two months before Gov. Bev Perdue signed the smoking ban into law.... Nassar remains angry that the smoking ban has no exemption for hookah lounges, as it has for cigar bars. An exemption was proposed in the summer but withdrawn after some hookah lounge owners complained that the law would still be too restrictive for their businesses.
"In mid-December, Nassar said, he had $5,000 worth of tobacco-based hookah flavorings in inventory.
"Come Saturday, he plans to quit selling them. Instead, he will offer 30 hookah flavorings that contain no tobacco.
"'I'm going to do it just for me to continue in my business," he said. "But sooner or later, they're going to have to find an exemption for hookahs.'"
That article can be accessed at: http://www.fayobserver.com/Articles/2009/12/27/960990