Smokers looking to light up socially haven’t been able to in Maryland’s bars and restaurants since 2007, when the General Assembly banned smoking in most public places.
Enter the state’s growing number of hookah lounges, where patrons smoke flavored tobacco through water pipes and often can bring their own alcohol to consume. Faced with little regulation, their number has increased fivefold to nearly 30 since 2007, when they were exempted from the state law because the sale of tobacco was deemed their “primary activity.
“Throughout Maryland, no specific laws regulate hookah lounges, which often fall outside zoning rules. There’s little or no regulation in terms of health department oversight, alcohol consumption or hours of operation.