Smoking ban to be enforced at Rapid City hookah loungeRAPID CITY (AP) — Rapid City police officers will start enforcing the state smoking ban at a hookah lounge by the end of the month, barring a court injunction, Police Chief Steve Allender said.
RAPID CITY (AP) — Rapid City police officers will start enforcing the state smoking ban at a hookah lounge by the end of the month, barring a court injunction, Police Chief Steve Allender said.
The smoking ban law exempts retail tobacco stores as long as they generate 65 percent of their income from tobacco sales and don't allow alcohol consumption. Ifrit's Hookah Lounge serves beer and wine, and Pennington County State's Attorney Glenn Brenner believes it is breaking the law. Brenner sent a letter to the business's attorney on Friday giving Ifrit's 15 days to comply.
Hookah smoking, which originated in India and the Middle East, involves using water pipes with burning charcoal to ingest tobacco. Ifrit's attorney, Stephen Wesolick, said he will take the matter to court for a judgment on whether it constitutes smoking under the state statute.
Wesolick said the position of Ifrit's is that the tobacco product in a hookah pipe is not ignited to produce smoke, but is heated and dehydrated to produce a vapor.
"It's not the same as smoking a cigarette or a pipe," he told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "It's our position that it's not a smoke that results from combustion."
"It is heated and burned with fire, a piece of coal. Smoke is produced," Allender said. "The tobacco and its byproducts are inhaled into lungs and blown out into the air for other people to ingest."
Brenner said a court ruling could clear the air.
"It will give us guidance once and for all and we'll know what direction we need to go; and I think there are other establishments waiting for that answer, too," the prosecutor said.
The other two hookah lounges in Rapid City do not serve alcohol. However, they have been the subject of complaints by neighboring businesses who say the smell permeates their premises.