Hookah Blog

The F-Files #3: Rima S. Khoury

The F-Files #3: Rima S. Khoury

7th May 2021

  In episode 3 of the Fumari Files, we sit down with our very own General Counsel Rima S. Khoury. Rima has been prolific in the battle to save hookah and we gave her the chance to tell us more about how she got involved and what hookah fans at home can do to make a change.   NAME: Rima S. Khoury, Esq. LOCATION: San Diego, CA. OCCUPATION: General Counsel for Fumari
YOU'VE BECOME KNOWN IN THE INDUSTRY FOR YOUR WORK TO PRESERVE HOOKAH. HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED? Hookah is part of my cultural heritage. I am a first generation American of Palestinian descent. My parents, grandparents and their parents before them enjoyed hookah which was a centerpiece for social events. As it was centuries ago, hookah is offered to guests as a sign of hospitality and respect. I take great pride in my cultural heritage and make every effort to keep those traditions alive. Today, I work for a premium hookah tobacco manufacturer and I am a founding member of the National Hookah Community Association founded to protect and preserve the rich cultural tradition of hookah. I am passionate about protecting my cultural traditions and have worked tirelessly to educate lawmakers about the significance of hookah.
WHAT IS CURRENTLY HAPPENING WITH THE TOBACCO FLAVOR BAN ISSUE? A few years ago states and local governments started introducing broad tobacco flavor bans to address a dramatic increase in youth vaping. Many lawmakers did not realize that a tobacco flavor ban would result in a hookah ban because all hookah in the U.S. comes in flavors. Hookah tobacco or shisha was made centuries ago with molasses and honey. We organized the Hookah Chamber of Commerce and National Hookah Community Association to give the Arabs, Armenians, Turks, Indians, Persians and other minority groups a voice and to educate lawmakers on the difference between hookah and vape and explain the rich cultural tradition of hookah. We were successful with SB38, which was later introduced as SB793, the California state flavored tobacco ban which exempted hookah while also balancing the interest of youth prevention and access by restricting hookah retail sales to twenty-one and over establishments. Other cities and municipalities in California later mirrored the hookah exemption language of SB793 including Burbank, Glendale, West Hollywood, Long Beach, Culver City, Irvine, and San Diego County. We all agree that kids should not be smoking and are willing to work with lawmakers to balance the interests of preserving hookah and protecting minority business owners, while also addressing youth access and usage of tobacco products. Both Fumari and the National Hookah Community Association are proponents of best practices within the hookah industry and are working to create a self-regulating industry to ensure regulatory compliance and prevention of marketing hookah products to youth..
WHAT CAN PEOPLE DO FROM HOME TO HELP? We encourage hookah manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, lounges and enthusiasts to take action now and join the National Hookah Community Association and learn more about these flavored tobacco bans that could erase the cultural tradition of hookah. If there is a pending flavored tobacco ban in your area, we ask that you contact your representatives and explain to them how a hookah ban would affect you. These lawmakers need to hear from their constituents the impact of a hookah ban so that we can avoid unintended consequences and ethnic erasing.
Want to take action or just learn more about the flavor bans? Visit the National Hookah Community Association's website for more information.


Related Post