After tobacco, Turkey bans hookah in public places

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jan 28 2013 10:22 PM | Updated as of Feb 04 2013 07:32 PM

ANKARA, Turkey - After banning smoking in public places, the Turkish government has gone one step further by clamping down on an ancient tradition -- the hookah, or water pipe.

As of Sunday it is no longer permitted to smoke the "hubbly-bubbly" in cafes, bars or restaurants as the conservative Islamic government cracks down on use of tobacco.

In 2009 the government made it illegal to smoke in public places, but only barred use of the hookah by minors, and cafes continued to offer fruity tobacco mixes in water pipes, drawing the wrath of health authorities.

The hookah, or narghile, was very popular under the Ottoman Empire but was eclipsed by the new-fangled cigarettes under the Turkish Republic from 1923.

In recent years it has regained its popularity in big cities.

Health experts warn that its fruity flavors make users forget that they are in fact inhaling tobacco, and say that since the smoke lasts longer than a cigarette it is even more dangerous.

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