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Nov-18-2010 20:35TweetFollow @OregonNews
Hookah Bar in Salem Sees Increasing BusinessWritten by Tim King & Bonnie King Salem-News.com
The hookah is a water pipe that is shared in a social group setting.
(SALEM, Ore.) - Oregon news media outlets are sending out smoke signals over the bubbling popularity of Hookah bars, painting these establishments that are very popular in other parts of the world, in a negative light.
TV reports have suggested the hookah represents a new problem, though research shows these tobacco water pipes have been in use for hundreds of years.
Nate Parent is the Hookah Master at Presley's Cabaret in Salem.
"Hookah's have been around since the 1500's; it originated in India, and it has been brought back to modern countries and people are able to enjoy a smoke among friends."
He says it is true that some people consider this a taboo, suggesting that teens are attracted to the hookah; but his establishment only allows adults 21 and over to smoke the Hookah.
The trend has taken hold and Parent says the Hookah bar at Presley's is a hit-- and he isn't just blowing smoke...
"With the new Oregon smoking laws in effect, it makes it hard to drink and smoke at the same location, and that is what we are able to offer by having our Hookah bar outside."
Clean indoor air legislation mandates that smokers stay outside, but at Presley’s, the outdoor experience is comfortable enough for adults to inhale many flavors legally year round— under cover.
As an integral aspect of Middle east culture, the Hookah is filled with a blend that Parent says has less nicotine.
"Even for non cigarette smokers, basically shisha is natural tobacco so it is very low on nicotine like there is in cigarettes and other tobacco products," Parent said.
Smoking the hookah is a social phenomenon.
Considered to be a unique and relaxing activity, another part of the appeal in smoking hookah is that it is relatively inexpensive.
The popularity of alternative forms of tobacco like waterpipe smoking has been steadily growing for some time among young people around the globe, so much that it has been dubbed the "first new tobacco trend of the 21st century".
Current estimates indicate that 100 million people around the world smoke tobacco from waterpipes daily.
The term waterpipe, or hookah, generally refers to tobacco-use methods in which smoke passes through water so it cools before it is inhaled.
The tobacco mixture is a combination of tobacco and fruit flavoring, so it tastes better than "normal" tobacco.
The first hookah came from ancient India along the border of Pakistan. It's popularity spread throughout the Arabic province to Turkey about 500 years ago, and became deeply embedded in its historical culture. Interest in the middle east has grown exponentially in recent years.
Enthusiasts say that smoking the hookah is a delicious assault on the senses that has none of the harshness of cigarette or cigar smoking, which is not to say it without risks.
Parent said, "Even for non cigarette smokers, shisha is all natural tobacco, so there is a low amount of nicotine and there are no added chemicals like there are in cigarettes."
However, the American Cancer Society advises that smoking tobacco in any form is not healthy, at any age.
Now there are over 500 hookah bars in the United States, and an average of 5 new hookah bars open each month.
In Salem, Oregon, Presley's is the only one that is strictly for adults only. For those with more in mind than smoking, Presley's also has exotic dancers and serves steak dinners for under four bucks.
The taboo of the hookah may in itself may be attractive to some, while others find any form of tobacco distasteful.
Either way, in Salem, Oregon, many are glad that there is a place where people over 21 can still drink and smoke, legally.
The Hookah Bar at Presley's is located at 3803 Commercial St. SE, Salem, Oregon 97302. For more information, call 503-371-1565.
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