Hookah bars in Paris fight smoking ban

I was surprised Parisians have accepted the new smoking ban as willingly as they have.

There is, however, one resistance movement: Hookah bars. Some of them have continued to break the law by continuing to offer customers tobacco in water pipes, IHT reports.

Hookah or shisha bars, which began springing up in France more than a decade ago, became increasingly popular across Europe, both among immigrants from Islamic countries and among the hip student crowd. France had 800 hookah bars before the smoking ban, half of them in Paris or its suburbs, but perhaps one-third have closed since the ban took effect.

So far, Sarkozy’s government shows no inclination to negotiate since declaring in December that there would be no exceptions to the smoking ban. Apparently, “it’s a matter of public health.”

That seems harsh. These are, after all, as close to private smoking clubs as you can get.