When I first learned of N.C.'s smoking ban, I was really excited. I was so tired of going to crowded bars that allowed smoking where I felt like I couldn't even breathe (cough Goodfellows). But then I visited one of my favorite bars on Franklin Street, Hookah Bliss, where I saw posters all over the walls calling on customers to fight the ban.
Adam Bliss opened up Hookah Bliss a couple of summers ago down on West Franklin and the place has taken off. It had a great vibe, quality shisha and a knowledgeable and friendly owner in Bliss. My friends and I took to it and it quickly became one of our favorite hang outs.
Unfortunately, the N.C. smoking ban means that his business will become illegal when the law goes into effect in January.
But something is wrong here. The law makes an exception for "private clubs" and "cigar bars," but no one else. Why these two? Well according to Bliss (and I agree) it's because the rich, white legislators like to go there and they don't want to see their favorite pastime put out of business. But where does this leave the hookah bars?
It makes no sense that this ban should put them out of business. The purpose of the regulation is to protect people from second hand smoke in public places, like bars and restaurants. I'm pretty sure if you're going into Hookah Bliss, you're OK with second hand smoke. The reason you go there is to smoke or hang out with friends who are going to smoke. Obviously people in there don't care about second hand smoke, just like the patrons of cigar bars.
Bliss and other hookah bar owners are working to figure out where to go from here, but it looks like one of my favorite hang outs is doomed. Maybe he'll keep the bar open there. I sure hope so.
The Daily Tar Heel put together a nice little video about the issue, which is what reminded me of this. You can check that out below.
If you're in Chapel Hill, make sure to stop by Hookah Bliss before January and do what you can to support them.