Saturday, January 31, 2015

Report: City targeting hookah bars for closure, including Sahara East, with help from NYU students


[EVG file photo from 2011]

The city's hookah bars have been allowed to operate since the 2002 smoking ban as long as the shisha they sell contains only fruit, herbs and sweetening agents such as molasses.

However, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times, 13 hookah bars, including the 25-year-old Sahara East on First Avenue near East 11th Street, are in danger of closing after a city investigation found the shisha they served contained tobacco.

In addition, the article notes that the city completed the sting operation with the help of NYU undergrads. (The city also wanted to see if the establishments were selling the shisha to patrons under the legal age of 21.)

Let's hear now from…

Sahara East:

Mahmoud Gamaa, the owner of Sahara East, said he has been in business for 25 years, making him one of the first to introduce hookah bars to New York. Originally from Cairo, Gamaa said Sahara East, also a restaurant, is a place where people come to relax. "We're about hospitality, cleansing and being with friends," he said.

The City:

"These 13 hookah bars are knowingly flouting the law by serving tobacco-based shisha," Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said in a statement. "We will not tolerate this willful disregard of New York City's smoke-free air laws and have already taken steps to revoke the permits of these establishments."

NYU:

Diana Silver, an associate professor of public health at New York University, said she arranged for six of her students to go undercover in the hookah sting after having worked with the health department on studies. She said the students were excited to do field work and would be giving depositions to be included in legal proceedings.

"They learned it's one thing to pass or imagine a law, but compliance and enforcement are complicated," she said.

When asked about the city's allegations that his shisha was found to contain tobacco, "Gamaa indicated that if so, it was unwittingly. He said he purchases only nicotine-free shisha from a distributor."

Read the whole article here.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

Undergrad lawyer narcs. That's a new low, NYU.

Anonymous said...

I hope the NYU rats are proud of themselves for being pawns of the State (when you really think about it). What naive fools for thinking they were actually doing their mole activity for a good cause and for 'the greater good'. I wouldn't be surprised if one of their arguments to do the sting was to 'save the children'.

Anonymous said...

Good.

Scuba Diva said...

I always just assumed these hookahs contained tobacco, and I didn't know why the hookah bars were allowed to operate—except that there were several cigar lounges, including "Velvet" on 7th Street which allowed smoking due to some loophole, so who knows.

Gojira said...

So not only are NYU students loud, obnoxious, drunken, self-absorbed, clueless, shallow, stupid tools, they are now snitches and shills for a university steamrolling over anything and anyone that stands in the way of its further expansion and subjection of the local populace to more misery. Way to go, you shameful stoozes; thanks for helping perpetuate the nanny state.

Anonymous said...

I've walked by the hookah place on 10th @ A a hundred times and never imagines there was any tobacco since the smoke had no hint of it. This seems like a well orchestrated attempt to sabotage a type of business to make way for another more NYU friendly (Fro-Yo or whatever the kids cannot live without) business. Seems to me a fine would be more appropriate and these places should be allowed to find tobacco free products instead of being shut down.

Anonymous said...

Whether or not there is tobacco in there, I wouldn't want to share any smoking device. If every part isn't thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after each use, you might as well make out with the person--or people--who smoked before you.

Anonymous said...

And you ask what is worse than a douchey frat bar...behold, the hookah bar! Good riddance

Anonymous said...

Great keep finding new and improved ways of destroying more mom and pop shops.

Merica said...

Once again, NYC govt intruding and everybody's civil rights. This time they use college kids as undercover rats to keep more money for themselves by not paying a regular undercover policeman/agent. Who the fuck walks into a hookah bar who doesn't like or want smoke? In business for 25 years, and govt wants to shut them down. Good job you rat terds, amd shit in Mary Bassett's mouth

Anonymous said...

There used to be a hookah bar on the west side of First Avenue between 7th & St. Marks. When they first opened I went in there with a friend. The place was empty, and quiet. A group of about 6 kids came in. We watched them set-up the hookah. I was very shocked to see that the "waiter" showed the kids how to use the hookah, and then handed it over to the group, WITHOUT changing the "inhaler". They all shared it. I always wondered about the hygiene. They are supposed to change the "inhaler", do they always???

Anonymous said...

It's a shakedown. If you don't pay the tobacco tax they come after you. If you want an "A" for your restaurant, they'll hit you for money. It's "protection money" by another name.. .and yes, of course it's to save the chillllldren.

One big f-in racket. And if you sell loosies (sp?) then the cops might really come at you.

Anonymous said...

I don't care for hookah bars, but this is fucking stupid. If you are in a hookah bar, you are fine with smoke.

NOTORIOUS said...

So now we have disability "activists", the City and NYU students raging a war against various types of small businesses in the neighborhood? We get it. You want the real estate. In the afterlife, there's a special spot next to Hitler for all of you.

Anonymous said...

No hashish in the mix?

What a waste!

Anonymous said...

They probably think they did a good thing, too.

Anonymous said...

I'm sick of NYU and the people who go there. Have been for quite a while. This is definitely a brand new low. That's why I take so much pleasure in busting the nose of an obnoxious, rude, entitled frat boy who wants to take a poke at me. Pure joy.

Anonymous said...

The exploitation of students in this citywide agenda of stripping anything remotely interesting from the city is a new low for NYU. That professor should be fired.

Anonymous said...

People who hyperfocus on hygiene are such weirdos to me. You touch a shitton of door pulls and subway poles and filthy dollar bills and sit your butt on places god knows who has sat on before you every single day in this city. Maybe your bagel guy is wearing gloves when he's making your sandwich. Maybe he isn't … maybe he has had those gloves on for the last three bagel orders before you! Germs everywhere OMG!!!

if you are dorky enough to go to a hookah bar in the first place at least leave the Purell at home, you will live, I promise you.

PS, you germphobes are the ones ruining bodega cats and dogs being allowed in stores for everyone else.

VIVA LA GERMS NYC

JAZ said...

Even the hookahs don't want NYU undergrads inside of them.

Anonymous said...

Ha! These comments are interesting.
Just goes to show; the douchebag is in the eye of the beholder, I guess.

Anonymous said...

they're an assault on our neighborhoods. close them all and good riddance.

Giovanni said...

For their next assignment, NYU students will be used to expose the illegal drug activity of other students, which should reduce the student population by at least 50%.

Anonymous said...

If they're not serving tobacco, they have nothing to worry about.

Anonymous said...

Everyone involved in this whole story is damn asshole. The cops, the NYU students, the hookah bars. Screw them all.

Scuba Diva said...

Giovanni said:

For their next assignment, NYU students will be used to expose the illegal drug activity of other students, which should reduce the student population by at least 50%.

I like the way you think!

Maybe then some of these buildings NYU took away from the community—such as the Bottom Line—can be returned to it!

Anonymous said...

About 3 years ago (?) in a NYU dorm near Washington Square Park they finally busted a student for selling a HUGE volume of drugs, out of their dorm. Maybe NYU should stick to minding their own business?

NYUiStillLoveU said...

I recognize this'll prob have no effect whatsoever, but I'll submit it anyway. There are > than *26,000* undergrads at NYU. Six (6!) of those 26,000 were part of this Health Dept project, and their participation was arranged by their prof of public health, according to the LA Times article, and it's not at all clear what they knew beforehand about the project aims. So: 6 of 26,000. Just want to point that out and ask future commenters try to remember that rather than blame the *entire* NYU community. Yes, I'm an alumnus (pre-historic, but whatever) and I think the Health Dept is reacting with hysteria -- but I would've written something similar even if I weren't, if for no other reason than to try balancing out the crazy levels of hatin'.

Larry Clinton said...

Close all these trash holes.

Gojira said...

You talking about your mouth again, Larry Clinton?

Anonymous said...

Two words: Nazi Youth

Anonymous said...

HERPES

NOTORIOUS said...

It's their revenge for all the fro-yo hovels closing. Hopefully they'll simmer down in light of the opening of DOTS, the new restaurant coming to St. Marks where all of the food is served in tiny rows of dots on a sheet of paper.

Hookah -> Benzene -> Leukemia => Freedom!!! said...

This is unspeakable!

How dare a professor of public health conspire with city government to enforce the ban on tobacco in hookah bars.

These ogres are trying to keep the under-21 students from inhaling tobacco smoke in a store whose livelihood depends on them doing just that.

And keeping them from inhaling the carcinogen benzene from the burning hookah coals also! Argh!

This is just so angry-making I want to scream!


http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/25/health/hookah-as-health-risk-still-qualifies-as-smoking.html


Smoking through a hookah is not harmless, according to a new study. In addition to the usual tobacco carcinogens, dangerous levels of benzene are inhaled from the lump of smoldering charcoal that ignites the moist tobacco mixture.


Benzene is known to cause leukemia and is a suspected cause of other cancers.

Giovanni said...

26,000 NYU students x 50% potential law breakers = 13,000 increase in NYC inmate population on Rikers Island. We're gonna need a bigger jail.

I second Scuba Divas idea, I miss The Bottom Line too. If NYU can build 2 miillion sq ft of additional space they can build another couple thousand sq ft for at least one of the institutions they have forced out.

Anonymous said...

Laws that stopped cigarette smoking in restaurants and bars helped me quit, unfortunately not in time to avoid getting a smoking-related cancer. (I'm doing okay now, thank you.) I think there are better targets for all this outrage than enforcing a public health law that narrows the pathway to a world of trouble.

Anonymous said...

Diana Silver would have done well working for Hitler.
Seig Heil!

Bill the libertarian anarchist, enemy of statists, especially the statist professoriat, and resident of the Union of Soviet Socialist Boros

Anonymous said...

Diana Silver should be fired for exploiting her students in the name of a questionable quality of life infringement.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:40 exactly. There is a guy/gal who gets it.

les native said...

Fucking little NYU snitches ruin everything, not just lame hookah bars.