MANKATO — A plan to offer hookah smoking at a place called Puff Puff Palace went up in smoke Monday night.
Omar Wazwaz has applied for a tobacco license at 408 South Front St. in the heart of the downtown bar district. That alone wouldn’t be an issue. But Wazwaz also wanted to provide what he called “sampling” of hookah products and devices for his customers.
Hookahs are water pipes with a single or multiple intake hoses attached. Hookah tobaccos include flavored tobacco, herbal tobacco or vapor stones.
Under the state smoking ban, cities can allow smoking samples in stores that are purely tobacco shops.
But City Manager Pat Hentges said the application for Puff Puff Palace was far beyond what anyone would consider samples. The business anticipated several hookah stations with seating for about two dozen people at a time. The smoking samples would involve smoking sessions of up to 45 minutes. And the shop planned to charge $7 to $9 per sample of tobacco.
“I would say that’s a hookah bar or hookah cafe,” Hentges told the council.
Councilman Jack Considine agreed. “The intent is to have a place where people can walk to from the bars and smoke.”
While the council was at a work session and couldn’t take an official vote, it was clear the hookah smoking won’t be happening.
Almost all the members said they won’t grant the tobacco sampling request in this case. And several said they would like to simply pass an ordinance that would not allow tobacco sampling in any form.
About eight sites around the state do allow tobacco sampling inside smoke shops.